Previous studies reported that the total flavonoids from the stems and leaves of Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi (TFSS) could enhance and improve learning and memory abilities in experimental animals, and reduce the neuronal pathologic alterations induced by some reagents in mice. The present study examined whether TFSS can improve memory dysfunction, neuronal damage, and abnormal free radicals induced by permanent cerebral ischemia in rats. The permanent cerebral ischemic model in rats was produced by bilateral ligation of the common carotid arteries. The influence of permanent cerebral ischemia on learning and memory was determined in the Morris water maze. The neuronal damage in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex was assessed by the neuronal morphologic observations. The contents of malondialdehyde (MDA) and nitric oxide (NO), and the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex were measured using thiobarbituric acid, nitrate reductase, xanthine–xanthine oxidase, and ammonium molybdate spectrophotometric methods, respectively. In learning and memory performance tests, cerebral ischemic rats always required a longer latency time to find the hidden platform and spent a shorter time in the target quadrant in the Morris water maze. TFSS 17.5—70 mg·kg−1 daily orally administered to ischemic rats for 20 d, from day 16—35 after operation differently reduced the prolonged latency and increased swimming time spent in the target quadrant. In neuronal morphologic observations, daily oral TFSS 17.5—70 mg·kg−1 for 21 d, from day 16—36 after operation markedly inhibited the ischemia-induced neuronal damage. In addition, the increased contents of MDA and NO, and SOD activity, and the decreased activity of CAT in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex induced by cerebral ischemia were differently reversed. The reference drug piracetam (140 mg·kg−1 per day for 20—21 d) similarly improved impaired memory and neuronal damage but had no significant effects on free radicals in ligated rats. TFSS can improve memory deficits and neuronal damage in rats after permanent cerebral ischemia, which may be beneficial in the treatment of cerebrovascular dementia.
2006 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan