Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 3050–3061 | Cite as

Aqueous Leaf Extract of Withania somnifera as a Potential Neuroprotective Agent in Sleep-deprived Rats: a Mechanistic Study

  • Shaffi Manchanda
  • Rachana Mishra
  • Rumani Singh
  • Taranjeet Kaur
  • Gurcharan KaurEmail author


Modern lifestyle and sustained stress of professional commitments in the current societal set up often disrupts the normal sleep cycle and duration which is known to lead to cognitive impairments. In the present study, we report whether leaf extract of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) has potential neuroprotective role in acute stress of sleep deprivation. Experiments were performed on three groups of adult Wistar rats: group 1 (vehicle treated-undisturbed sleep [VUD]), group 2 (vehicle treated-sleep deprived [VSD]), and group 3 (ASH-WEX treated-sleep deprived [WSD]). Groups 1 and 2 received single oral feeding of vehicle and group 3 received ASH-WEX orally (140 mg/kg or 1 ml/250 g of body weight) for 15 consecutive days. Immediately after this regimen, animals from group 1 were allowed undisturbed sleep (between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.), whereas rats of groups 2 and 3 were deprived of sleep during this period. We observed that WSD rats showed significant improvement in their performance in behavioral tests as compared to VSD group. At the molecular level, VSD rats showed acute change in the expression of proteins involved in synaptic plasticity, cell survival, and apoptosis in the hippocampus region of brain, which was suppressed by ASH-WEX treatment thus indicating decreased cellular stress and apoptosis in WSD group. This data suggest that Ashwagandha may be a potential agent to suppress the acute effects of sleep loss on learning and memory impairments and may emerge as a novel supplement to control SD-induced cognitive impairments.


Ashwagandha Neuroprotection Sleep deprivation Synaptic plasticity Cell survival 



Shaffi Manchanda and Taranjeet Kaur are thankful to University Grants Commission (UGC) for fellowship grant under UPE (University with Potential for Excellence) and CPEPA (Centre with Potential for Excellence in Particular Area) schemes during the entire course of study. The infrastructure provided by the University Grants Commission (UGC), India, under UPE and CPEPA schemes and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), India, under DISC facility is highly acknowledged. This study was funded by DST, Government of India (GOI) project grant to Gurcharan Kaur. Muskan Gupta, Vedangana Saini, and Anuradha Sharma are deeply acknowledged for their help and support during the experimental study. The funding source had no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in writing of report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shaffi Manchanda
    • 1
  • Rachana Mishra
    • 1
  • Rumani Singh
    • 2
  • Taranjeet Kaur
    • 1
  • Gurcharan Kaur
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Medical Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of BiotechnologyGuru Nanak Dev UniversityAmritsarIndia
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology and Experimental TherapeuticsBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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