Ecballium elaterium attenuates neuroinflammation in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease through modulation of nuclear factor κB pathway

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran

2 Department of Animal Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran


Objective: Sustained inflammation, which could be promoted by Aβ aggregation and tau hyperphosphorylation, is a critical player in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis. In the first phase, this study was designed to evaluate the anti-inflammatory properties of Ecballium elaterium (EE), as a Mediterranean therapeutic plant, and its effects on biochemical and behavioral signs of nucleus basalis of Meynert lesioned (NBML) rats, as an approved model of AD. In the second phase, we investigated the effect of EE on nuclear factor (NF)-κB pathway which is responsible for encoding proteins involved in the inflammatory cascade.
Materials and Methods: Animals were divided randomly into four groups as following: control, NBML rats (AD), AD rats that were treated by high- and low-dose EE. Prostaglandins (PGs) levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and acetylcholinesterase (AChE) levels were assessed by fluorometric kit and Elman method, respectively. Behavioral signs were evaluated by Morris Water Maze (MWM) test and inflammatory proteins content was analyzed by immunoblotting method.
Results: According to the results, treatment of NBML rats with EE fruit juice reduced PGs and cytokines more than 2-fold in comparison with AD rats through inhibition of COX-2 enzyme. Attenuation of inflammatory response in NBML rats was accompanied by reduced AChE activity (about 3-fold) and improved learning ability. Interestingly, EE reduced NF-κB expression for about 3-fold which resulted in a more than 10-fold increase in IκBα/P-IκBα ratio.
Conclusion: Our results confirmed the TNF-α/cytokines/NF-κB/COX-2 pathway involves as the main inflammatory response in NBML rats. We also provided biochemical and behavioral evidence which introduces EE as an anti-inflammatory adjuvant to improve pathophysiological signs in patients suffering from AD and related dementia.