Epilepsy, which is one of the most common neurological disorders, involves the occurrence of spontaneous and recurrent seizures that alter the performance of the brain and affect several sensory and behavioral functions. Oxidative damage has been associated with post-seizure neuronal injury, thereby increasing an individual’s susceptibility to the occurrence of neurodegenerative disorders. The present study investigated the possible anticonvulsive and neuroprotective effects of organic and conventional yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis), a plant rich in polyphenols, on pentylenetetrazol (PTZ)-induced seizures in Wistar rats. The behavioral and polyphenolic profiles of the yerba mate samples were also evaluated. Infusions of yerba mate (50mg/kg) or distilled water were given to rats for fifteen days by oral gavage. On the 15th day the animals were subjected to open field test, and exploratory behavior was assessed. Subsequently, 60mg/kg PTZ (i.p.) was administered, and animals were observed for the appearance of convulsions for 30min. Latency for the first seizure, tonic-clonic and generalized seizures time, frequency of seizures and mortality induced by PTZ were recorded. The animals were then sacrificed, and the cerebellum, cerebral cortex and hippocampus were quickly removed and frozen to study the neuroprotective effects of yerba mate. The oxidative damage in lipids and proteins, nitric oxide levels, the activities of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (Sod) and catalase (Cat) and non-enzymatic cellular defense (sulfhydryl protein) were quantified in all the tissues. The results showed that organic and conventional yerba mate infusions were able to reduce the frequency of seizures when compared to the PTZ group. Besides, organic yerba mate infusion decreases the tonic-clonic seizures time in relation to the PTZ group. It was also shown that organic and conventional yerba mate infusions reduced the oxidative damage in lipids and proteins and nitric oxide levels and prevented the decrease in Sod and Cat activities and sulfhydryl protein content when compared to the PTZ group in all the CNS tissues assayed. Organic and conventional yerba mate commercial samples did not change the behavior (locomotion, exploration or anxiety) of the treated animals. In both organic and conventional infusions, the presence of the polyphenols rutin, chlorogenic acid and their acyl derivatives were detected, which could be associated with the biological effects observed. These data indicate that yerba mate may provide new perspectives for the development of therapeutic approaches with natural compounds in the pharmaceutical area, both to reduce the convulsions’ frequency and to minimize the neuronal damage associated with recurrent seizures.
Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier Inc.