Insights on the Neuromodulatory Propensity of Selaginella (Sanjeevani) and its Potential Pharmacological Applications
Girish Chandran and Muralidhara
Affiliation: Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, CSIR-CFTRI, Mysore - 570020, India.
Keywords: Biflavonoids, Neuroprotection, Pteridophyte, Sanjeevani, Selaginella, S. delicatula.
Exploiting the potential of natural compounds to attenuate endogenous redox status to achieve neuroprotection
is a novel concept in human disease therapy. This has necessitated a need to identify newer efficient phytochemicals
possessing propensity to act on various biochemical therapeutic targets with low or no toxicity. Selaginella is a lithophytic
pteridophyte which grows on constantly irrigated rocks in high altitude zones in different parts of the world. It is
appraised to be “Sanjeevani” (the resurrection herb) based on its mythological reference in the Indian epic “Ramayana”.
Due to the presence of a unique disaccharide, trehalose, most species of Selaginella can survive severe drought
conditions, maintaining the plant’s structural stability and resurrect during rains. Several species of the genus are used in
ethnic medicine for the therapy of jaundice, chronic trachitis, lung cancer, labor pain and wound healing. The major
natural compounds in the genus Selaginella are characteristic flavonoid-dimers, called ‘biflavonoids’. Although various
biological effects of Selaginella have been documented in vitro, studies on its neuromodulatory properties are nonexisting
despite the presence of potentially therapeutic biflavonoids. We have reviewed the existing literature on the
possible pharmacological properties of Selaginella. Further, recent evidence gathered from our laboratory on the
neuromodulatory propensity of S. delicatula employing in vivo models of chemically induced neurodegenerative diseases
in rodents and Drosophila are discussed. Our findings point to a mechanism which modulates redox status and
mitochondrial dysfunction suggesting their possible therapeutic use in oxidative stress-mediated neurodegenerative
diseases including Parkinson's disease.
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