Crocins, the active constituents of Crocus Sativus L., counteracted ketamine-induced behavioural deficits in rats
Experimental evidence indicates that the non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist ketamine impairs cognition and can mimic certain aspects of positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia in rodents. Crocins are among the active components of the plant Crocus sativus L. and were found to be effective in different models of psychiatric disorders including anxiety and depression. The present study was designed to investigate the ability of crocins to counteract schizophrenia-like behavioural deficits produced by ketamine in rats. Crocin's ability to counteract hypermotility, stereotypies and ataxia induced by ketamine was evaluated in a motor activity cage. The ability of crocins to reverse ketamine-induced memory deficits was assessed using the novel object recognition task (NORT). The social interaction test was used in order to examine the effects of crocins on ketamine-induced social withdrawal. Crocins (50 but not 30 mg/kg, i.p.) attenuated ketamine (25 mg/kg, i.p.)-induced hypermotility, stereotypies and ataxia. In a subsequent study, post-training administration of crocins (15 and 30 mg/kg, i.p.) reversed ketamine (3 mg/kg, i.p.)-induced performance deficits in the NORT. Finally, crocins (50 but not 30 mg/kg, i.p.) counteracted the ketamine (8 mg/kg, i.p.)-induced social isolation in the social interaction test. Our findings show that crocins attenuated schizophrenia-like behavioural deficits induced by the non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine in rats.