Frankincense upregulates the hippocampal calcium/calmodulin kinase II-α during development of the rat brain and improves memory performance.
Int J Dev Neurosci. 2018 Oct ;69:44-48. Epub 2018 Jun 30. PMID: 29966740
BACKGROUND: Frankincense is an oleo gum resin derived from trees of genus Boswellia. It has favorable effects on memory formation. However, the probable underlying molecular mechanisms have not been assessed. Frankincense exerts some of its effects via activation of protein kinases. Calcium/calmodulin kinaseII (CaMKII) and CaMKIV are crucial mediators of learning and memory. We studied the effect of maternal injection of the aqueous extract of frankincense during gestation and lactation periods on spatial memory performance and the mRNA expression levels of the hippocampal CaMKIIand CaMKIV in the offspring rats.
METHODS: Aqueous extract of Frankincense (50 and 100 mg/kg) or tap water was gavaged to distinct female rats during gestation and lactation periods. Memory performance was assessed in groups of male offspring using Morris water maze. In other groups of the offspring (with no memory test), the hippocampi of the juvenile rats were removed 30 days after labor. A real-time PCR method was used to measure the mRNA levels of CaMKII and CaMKIV.
RESULTS: Frankincense improved spatial memory retrieval in the offspring rats in a dose-dependent manner. The mRNA expression of hippocampal CaMKIV was unchanged between groups. However, the mRNA expression of hippocampal CaMKII was dose-dependently upregulated in the rats, whose mothers had received frankincense.
CONCLUSIONS: Due to the crucial role of the CaMKII in memory formation, the results provide a molecular basis for the effect of administration of frankincense to mother rats on improvement of the memory in the offspring.