Background and Objective: Maternal separation as an epigenetic agent provokes a severe
change in the brain, such as inflammation response, which is a key risk factor for the progression of
autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This study evaluated the preventive effect of hypericin on maternal
separation-induced cognitive deficits and hippocampal inflammation.
Methods: Here, we reported that pups are subjected to maternal separations for 1 h per day from postnatal
days (PND) 1-9 displayed apparent memory impairment in young rats (postnatal day 34) compared
to controls group. Furthermore, maternal separation significantly increased inflammation factors
in the hippocampus area. Anti-inflammation constituent shed light on treating ASD.
Results: In this study, we found that treatment with hypericin (10 and 50 mg/kg) significantly suppresses
expression of hippocampal interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) in the maternal
separation rat model. Also, we found that hypericin prevented the decrease of hippocampal dopamine
levels in the offspring of maternal separation rats.
Conclusion: The data indicated that hypericin may play a neuroprotective role in hippocampal cell and
ameliorates dysfunctions in memory and level of inflammation factor in this autism model. Thus,
hypericin could be used as an intervention for treating ASD.