Using Human Neural Stem Cells as a Model to Understand the “Science of Ashwagandha”

  • Manju Tewari
  • Hriday S. Pandey
  • Pankaj SethEmail author


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), a traditional Indian herb, has been widely employed in ayurvedic medicine. Various compounds isolated from leaf and root of this plant are used in treating human illness ranging from weakness, anxiety, rheumatic pain, diabetes, infertility, oxidative stress to cancer. In past two decades, scientific evidence for the neuroprotective effect of Ashwagandha further validates its use for treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease and spinal cord injury. This chapter discusses the neuroprotective effects of various components of Ashwagandha in neurological disorders, majority of which have been studied using animal models or cell lines. Extensive explorations into mechanistic aspects of Ashwagandha are mandatory to validate the findings obtained from animal models and to confirm their therapeutic potential in human system. In order to explore the therapeutic potential of the drug for treating brain disorders, it is important to investigate the effects of this herbal drug on primary human brain cells. This chapter emphasizes on the potential of using human neural stem cells (NSCs) as an in vitro model to study the neuroprotective effects of Ashwagandha and to gain novel insights into the underlying mechanism of action under physiological and pathological conditions. Different sources of neural stem cells have also been described in the chapter with a detailed insight on the method of deriving NSCs.


Neurological diseases Withania somnifera Neuroprotective effects Human fetal neural stem cells In vitro model 



Financial support from NBRC core funds, to Pankaj Seth laboratory is greatly acknowledged. The authors also wish to acknowledge the support of the facilities provided under the Biotechnology Information System Network (BTISNET) grant, DBT, India and Distributed Information Centre at NBRC, Manesar, India. Senior Research Fellowship to Manju Tewari and Junior Research Fellowship to Hriday Shankar Pandey from Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi is acknowledged.

Conflict of Interests

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest regarding the publication of this book chapter.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cellular and Molecular NeuroscienceNational Brain Research Centre (NBRC)ManesarIndia

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