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Crocus sativus Extract Tightens the Blood-Brain Barrier, Reduces Amyloid β Load and Related Toxicity in 5XFAD Mice

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journal contribution
posted on 04.05.2017, 00:00 authored by Yazan S. Batarseh, Sonali S. Bharate, Vikas Kumar, Ajay Kumar, Ram A. Vishwakarma, Sandip B. Bharate, Amal Kaddoumi
Crocus sativus, commonly known as saffron or Kesar, is used in Ayurveda and other folk medicines for various purposes as an aphrodisiac, antispasmodic, and expectorant. Previous evidence suggested that Crocus sativus is linked to improving cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients. The aim of this study was to in vitro and in vivo investigate the mechanism(s) by which Crocus sativus exerts its positive effect against AD. The effect of Crocus sativus extract on Aβ load and related toxicity was evaluated. In vitro results showed that Crocus sativus extract increases the tightness of a cell-based blood-brain barrier (BBB) model and enhances transport of Aβ. Further in vivo studies confirmed the effect of Crocus sativus extract (50 mg/kg/day, added to mice diet) on the BBB tightness and function that was associated with reduced Aβ load and related pathological changes in 5XFAD mice used as an AD model. Reduced Aβ load could be explained, at least in part, by Crocus sativus extract effect to enhance Aβ clearance pathways including BBB clearance, enzymatic degradation and ApoE clearance pathway. Furthermore, Crocus sativus extract upregulated synaptic proteins and reduced neuroinflammation associated with Aβ pathology in the brains of 5XFAD mice. Crocin, a major active constituent of Crocus sativus and known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, was also tested separately in vivo in 5XFAD mice. Crocin (10 mg/kg/day) was able to reduce Aβ load but to a lesser extent when compared to Crocus sativus extract. Collectively, findings from this study support the positive effect of Crocus sativus against AD by reducing Aβ pathological manifestations.