This study attempted to access the neuroprotective effect of yam (Dioscorea pseudojaponica Yamamoto) on the senescent mice induced by D-gal. The mice in the experiments were administered orally with yam (20, 100 or 500 mg/kg for 4 weeks, from the sixth week). The learning and memory abilities of the mice in Morris water maze test and the mechanisms involved in the neuroprotective effect of yam on the mice brain tissue were investigated. The content of diosgenin in the yam was also detected by using HPLC. Mice treated with yam were found to significantly improve their learning and memory abilities in Morris water maze test compared to those treated with D-gal (200 mg/kg for 10 weeks). In addition, yam was also found to increase the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and decrease the malondialdehyde (MDA) level on the brains of D-gal treated mice. Finally, the amount of diosgenin in the yam was 5.49 mg/g extract. To sum up, these results indicate that yam had the potential to be a useful treatment for cognitive impairment in TCM. Its beneficial effect may be partly mediated via enhancing endogenous antioxidant enzymatic activities.
American Journal of Chinese Medicine (accepted).37(5):889-902.