Effects of crocin on spatial or aversive learning and memory impairments induced by lipopolysaccharide in rats

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 Department of Physiology School of Medicine Isfahan University of Medical Sciences Isfahan, Iran.

2 Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


Objective: Neuroinflammation and oxidative stress play essential roles in the pathogenesis and progression of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Crocin, main active constituent of Crocus sativus L. (saffron), possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic and anti-oxidative capacity. The aim of the present study was to investigate the neuroprotective effect of crocin on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced learning and memory deficits and neuroinflammation in rats.
Materials and Methods: The animals were randomly classified into four groups, including control, LPS, crocin 50 and crocin 100. The rats were treated with either crocin (50 and 100 mg/kg) or saline for a week. Later, LPS (1 mg/kg, i.p.) or saline was administered, and treatments with crocin or saline were continued for 3 more weeks. The behavioral tasks for spatial and aversive memories were performed by the Morris water maze and passive avoidance tasks from post-injection days 18 to 24. Furthermore, the levels of interleukine-1β, lipid peroxidation and total thiol were assayed in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex.  
Results: Our results demonstrated that treatment of LPS-treated rats with crocin decreased the escape latency in the Morris water maze and increased the time spent in the target quadrant in the probe trial. Moreover, crocin increased step-through latency in the passive avoidance test. However, there was no significant difference in the oxidative and neuroinflammatory responses among the experimental groups. 
Conclusion: Pretreatment with crocin attenuates spatial or aversive learning and memory deficits in LPS-treated rats.