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Effects of Korean red ginseng extracts on neural tube defects and impairment of social interaction induced by prenatal exposure to valproic acid

Kim, Pitna, Park, Jin Hee, Kwon, Kyoung Ja, Kim, Ki Chan, Kim, Hee Jin, Lee, Jong Min, Kim, Hahn Young, Han, Seol-Heui, Shin, Chan Young
Food and chemical toxicology 2013 v.51 pp. 288-296
Oriental traditional medicine, Panax, adverse effects, autism, dose response, humans, locomotion, medicinal plants, models, nervous system, neural tube defects, patients, phenotype, progeny, rats, tea, toxicology, valproic acid
Ginseng is one of the most widely used medicinal plants, which belongs to the genus Panax. Compared to uncured white ginseng, red ginseng has been generally regarded to produce superior pharmacological effects with lesser side/adverse effects, which made it popular in a variety of formulation from tea to oriental medicine. Using the prenatal valproic acid (VPA)-injection model of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in rats, which produces social impairrment and altered seizure susceptibility as in human ASD patients as well as mild neural tube defects like crooked tail phenotype, we examined whether chronic administration of red ginseng extract may rescue the social impairment and crooked tail phenotype in prenatally VPA-exposed rat offspring. VPA-induced impairment in social interactions tested using sociability and social preference paradigms as well as crooked tail phenotypes were significantly improved by administration of Korean red ginseng (KRG) in a dose dependent manner. Rat offspring prenatally exposed to VPA showed higher sensitivity to electric shock seizure and increased locomotor activity in open-field test. KRG treatment reversed abnormal locomotor activity and sensitivity to electric shock to control level. These results suggest that KRG may modulate neurobehavioral and structural organization of nervous system adversely affected by prenatal exposure to VPA.