Valeriana officinalis extract and its main component, valerenic acid, ameliorate D-galactose-induced reductions in memory, cell proliferation, and neuroblast differentiation by reducing corticosterone levels and lipid peroxidation.Exp Gerontol. 2013 Nov; 48(11):1369-77.EG
Valeriana officinalis is used in herbal medicine of many cultures as mild sedatives and tranquilizers. In this study, we investigated the effects of extract from valerian root extracts and its major component, valerenic acid on memory function, cell proliferation, neuroblast differentiation, serum corticosterone, and lipid peroxidation in adult and aged mice. For the aging model, D-galactose (100 mg/kg) was administered subcutaneously to 6-week-old male mice for 10 weeks. At 13 weeks of age, valerian root extracts (100 mg/kg) or valerenic acid (340 μg/kg) was administered orally to control and D-galactose-treated mice for 3 weeks. The dosage of valerenic acid (340 μg/kg), which is the active ingredient of valerian root extract, was determined by the content of valerenic acid in valerian root extract (3.401±0.066 mg/g) measured by HPLC. The administration of valerian root extract and valerenic acid significantly improved the preferential exploration of new objects in novel object recognition test and the escape latency, swimming speeds, platform crossings, and spatial preference for the target quadrant in Morris water maze test compared to the D-galactose-treated mice. Cell proliferation and neuroblast differentiation were significantly decreased, while serum corticosterone level and lipid peroxidation in hippocampus were significantly increased in the D-galactose-treated group compared to that in the control group. The administration of valerian root extract significantly ameliorated these changes in the dentate gyrus of both control and D-galactose-treated groups. In addition, valerenic acid also mitigated the D-galactose-induced reduction of these changes. These results indicate that valerian root extract and valerenic acid enhance cognitive function, promote cell proliferation and neuroblast differentiation, and reduce serum corticosterone and lipid peroxidation in aged mice.