Animal Study Explores Effect of Herbal Tonic
A study published in the March issue of Neurochemistry Research uses a mouse model of physical fatigue to examine the effect of the herbal tonic hochu-ekki-to (TJ-41) on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene expression.
Hochu-ekki-to (TJ-41) is an herbal tonic from traditional Chinese medicine, made up of extracts from 10 medicinal plants. Studies of the properties of TJ-41 indicate that it
has immune-modulating effects.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein that helps to support the survival of neurons.
Three groups of mice were included in this experiment: five controls, five that received repeated tail-vein injections of the bacterium Brucella abortus, and five that were fed TJ-41 in addition to receiving the repeated Brucella abortus injections.
From earlier studies, the investigators had found that injecting mice with killed Brucella abortus bacterium would reduce physical activity (less time on a running wheel) and was a reasonable animal model of the physical fatigue experienced in CFS. They further hypothesized that the Brucella abortus and associated immune response could cause damage to the brain. Since BDNF protects brain cells from dying, they also examined the expression of the BDNF gene in the brains of the mice, particularly in the mice that had been fed the TJ-41.
Results from this study showed that the TJ-41 significantly improved the physical activity of the mice that received the Brucella abortus injections compared to the mice that received the injections and were not fed the tonic. The TJ-41 did not appear to have an effect on the brain, however.
Animal models such as this can help decipher the molecular mechanisms of fatigue and immune dysfunction observed in CFS. They can also shed light on treatment approaches using complementary and alternative medicines.
Chen R, Moriya J, Yamakawa JI, Takahashi T, Li Q, Morimoto S, Iwai K, Sumino H, Yamaguchi N, Kanda T. Brain atrophy in a murine model of chronic fatigue syndrome and beneficial effect of hochu-ekki-to (TJ-41). Neurochem Res 2008 Mar 4.
(Epub ahead of print)
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