Aim and Objective: The Dendrobium officinalis flower (DOF) is popular in China due
to common belief in its anti-aging properties and positive effects on “nourish yin”. However, there
have been relatively few confirmatory pharmacological experiments conducted to date. The aim of
this work was to evaluate whether DOF has beneficial effects on learning and memory in senescent
rats, and, if so, to determine its potential mechanism of effect.
Materials and Methods: SD rats were administrated orally DOF at a dose of 1.38, or 0.46 g/kg
once a day for 8 weeks. Two other groups included a healthy untreated control group and a
senescent control group. During the 7th week, a Morris water maze test was performed to assess
learning and memory. At the end of the experiment, serum and brain samples were collected to
measure concentrations of antioxidant enzymes, including malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide
dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione reductase (GSH-Px) in serum, and the
neurotransmitters, including γ-aminobutyric acid (γ-GABA), Glutamic (Glu), and monoamine
oxidase B (MAO-B) in the brain. Histopathology of the hippocampus was assessed using
hematoxylin-eosin (H&E) staining.
Results: The results suggested that treatment with DOF improved learning as measured by escape
latency, total distance, and target quadrant time, and also increased levels of γ-GABA in the brain.
In addition, DOF decreased the levels of MDA, Glu, and MAO-B, and improved SOD and GSHPx.
Histopathological analysis showed that DOF also significantly reduced structural lesions and
neurodegeneration in the hippocampus relative to untreated senescent rats.
Conclusion: DOF alleviated brain aging and improved the spatial learning abilities in senescent
rats, potentially by attenuating oxidative stress and thus reducing hippocampal damage and
balancing the release of neurotransmitters.