In the present study, we investigated whether ginseng total saponins (GTSs) protect hippocampal neurons after experimental traumatic brain injury (TBI) in rats. A moderate-grade TBI was made with the aid of a controlled cortical impact (CCI) device set at a velocity of 3.0 m/sec, a deformation of 3.0 mm, and a compression time of 0.2 sec at the right parietal area for adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. Sham-operated rats that underwent craniectomy without impact served as controls. GTSs (100 and 200 mg/kg) or saline was injected intraperitoneally into the rats immediately post-injury. Twenty-four hours after the injury, the rats underwent neurological evaluation. Contusion volume and the number of hippocampal neurons were calculated with apoptosis evaluated by TUNEL staining. 24 hr post-injury, saline-injected rats showed a significant loss of neuronal cells in the CA2 region of the right hippocampus (53.4%, p<0.05) and CA3 (34.6%, p<0.05) compared with contralateral hippocampal region, a significant increase in contusion volume (34±8 µL), and significant increase in neurologic deficits compared with the GTSs groups. Treating rats with GTSs seemed to protect the CCI-induced neuronal loss in the hippocampus, decrease cortical contusion volume, and improve neurological deficits.
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