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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 3 (2006), Issue 3, Pages 349-357
Original Article

Centella asiatica (L.) Leaf Extract Treatment During the Growth Spurt Period Enhances Hippocampal CA3 Neuronal Dendritic Arborization in Rats

1Department of Anatomy, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal, India
2Department of Anatomy, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India
3Department of Pharmacology, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal, India

Copyright © 2006 K. G. Mohandas Rao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Centella asiatica (CeA) is a creeping plant growing in damp places in India and other Asian countries. The leaves of CeA are used for memory enhancement in the Ayurvedic system of medicine, an alternative system of medicine in India. In this study, we have investigated the effect during the rat growth spurt period of CeA fresh leaf extract treatment on the dendritic morphology of hippocampal CA3 neurons, one of the regions of the brain concerned with learning and memory. Neonatal rat pups (7 days old) were fed with 2, 4 or 6 ml kg−1 body weight of fresh leaf extract of CeA for 2, 4 or 6 weeks. After the treatment period the rats were killed, their brains were removed and the hippocampal neurons were impregnated with silver nitrate (Golgi staining). Hippocampal CA3 neurons were traced using a camera lucida, and dendritic branching points (a measure of dendritic arborization) and intersections (a measure of dendritic length) were quantified. These data were compared with data for age-matched control rats. The results showed a significant increase in the dendritic length (intersections) and dendritic branching points along the length of both apical and basal dendrites in rats treated with 4 and 6 ml kg−1 body weight per day of CeA for longer periods of time (i.e. 4 and 6 weeks). We conclude that the constituents/active principles present in CeA fresh leaf extract have a neuronal dendritic growth stimulating property; hence, the extract can be used for enhancing neuronal dendrites in stress and neurodegenerative and memory disorders.