Heat stress conditions lead to neuroinflammation, neuronal death, and memory loss in animals. Coptidis Rhizoma (CR) exhibits potent fever-reducing effects and has been used as an important traditional medicinal herb for treating fever. However, to date, the effects of antipyretic CR on heat-induced brain damages have not been investigated. In this study, CR significantly reduced the elevation of ear and rectal temperatures after exposure to heat in mice. Additionally, CR attenuated hyperthermia-induced stress responses, such as release of cortisol into the blood, and upregulation of heat shock protein and c-Fos in the hypothalamus and hippocampus of mice. The administration of CR inhibited gliosis and neuronal loss induced by thermal stress in the hippocampal CA3 region. Treatment with CR also reduced the heat stress-induced expression of nuclear factor kappa β, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in the hippocampus. Moreover, CR significantly decreased proinflammatory mediators such as IL-9 and IL-13 in the heat-stressed hypothalamus. Furthermore, CR attenuated cognitive dysfunction triggered by thermal stress. These results indicate that CR protects the brain against heat stress-mediated brain damage via amelioration of hyperthermia and neuroinflammation in mice, suggesting that fever-reducing CR can attenuate thermal stress-induced neuropathology.
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