Ginkgo Biloba Reduces Harmful Effects of Parasite Treatment in Mice

Greg Howard
16th April, 2024

Ginkgo Biloba Reduces Harmful Effects of Parasite Treatment in Mice

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In Nairobi, Ginkgo biloba (GB) was found to help mice survive better when combined with a sleeping sickness drug
  • GB maintained brain protection and improved neurological health in infected mice
  • The plant extract reduced harmful inflammation and organ damage in the disease
Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), also known as sleeping sickness, is a life-threatening disease caused by the parasite Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (T.b.r). The late stages of this disease are particularly devastating, as the parasite breaches the blood-brain barrier (BBB), leading to severe brain inflammation, oxidative stress, and damage to multiple organs. The only available treatment for this advanced stage is a drug called melarsoprol (MelB), which, while effective against the parasite, can itself cause dangerous side effects, including lethal neurotoxicity. Researchers at the University of Nairobi have embarked on a study[1] to explore the potential of Ginkgo biloba (GB), a plant extract known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, to counteract the harmful effects of both the T.b.r infection and the MelB treatment. Their findings offer a glimmer of hope for improving the prognosis of patients suffering from late-stage HAT. The study involved several groups of mice: a control group, a group infected with T.b.r, a group treated with MelB after T.b.r infection, groups treated with GB either before or after T.b.r infection, and a group treated with both GB and MelB after T.b.r infection. The researchers aimed to observe the effects of GB on the integrity of the BBB, neurological function, blood parameters, and oxidative stress indicators in the presence of T.b.r infection and MelB treatment. The results were promising. Co-administration of MelB and GB improved the survival rate of the infected mice. Both MelB and GB, when administered separately, helped maintain the integrity of the BBB and improved neurological function. This is significant given the historical difficulty in distinguishing the progression from stage-1 to stage-2 HAT, where the BBB becomes compromised[2]. Moreover, the treatment prevented T.b.r-induced anemia and reduction in white blood cells, conditions that are detrimental to the body's ability to fight infections. In terms of oxidative stress—a condition where damaging free radicals outnumber protective antioxidants—the study showed that GB, especially when combined with MelB, helped prevent the increase in oxidative stress markers in the brain and other organs[3]. This is important because oxidative stress contributes to the organ damage seen in late-stage HAT. Notably, GB reduced levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), a marker of oxidative damage, in the brain, kidney, and liver, with the co-administered group showing the lowest MDA levels in the liver among all infected mice. Inflammation, a critical factor in the pathology of HAT, was also addressed by the GB treatment. The study showed that GB could mitigate the T.b.r-induced increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α and IFN-γ[4][5]. These cytokines are known to be elevated during severe inflammation and contribute to the disease's progression and the damage to organs. By stabilizing TNFα levels, particularly when used alongside MelB, GB demonstrated its potential as an anti-inflammatory agent. The study's findings suggest that Ginkgo biloba could serve as an adjunct therapy to melarsoprol, potentially reducing the drug's toxicity and the overall severity of the disease's impact on the body. The use of GB could help protect against the organ damage, lethal inflammation, and oxidative stress that are characteristic of severe late-stage HAT. This research not only contributes to the understanding of HAT pathology and treatment but also opens the door to more effective and less harmful treatment strategies for patients suffering from this devastating disease.

HerbsMedicineAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Ginkgo biloba attenuated detrimental inflammatory and oxidative events due to Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense in mice treated with melarsoprol.

Published 15th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Delineating neuroinflammation, parasite CNS invasion, and blood-brain barrier dysfunction in an experimental murine model of human African trypanosomiasis.

3) Coenzyme Q10 prevented Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense-mediated breach of the blood brain barrier, inflammation and organ damage in late stage of Human African Trypanosomiasis.

4) Meningoencephalitic African trypanosomiasis: Brain IL-10 and IL-6 are associated with protection from neuro-inflammatory pathology.

Journal: Journal of neuroimmunology, Issue: Vol 167, Issue 1-2, Oct 2005

5) Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor-1 (TNFp55) signal transduction and macrophage-derived soluble TNF are crucial for nitric oxide-mediated Trypanosoma congolense parasite killing.

Journal: The Journal of infectious diseases, Issue: Vol 196, Issue 6, Sep 2007

Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙