Diabetes mellitus is associated with the development of neuronal tissue damage in different central and peripheral nervous system regions. A common complication of diabetes is painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy. We have explored the antihyperalgesic and neuroprotective properties of Rosmarinus officinalis L. extract (RE) in a rat model of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes. The nociceptive threshold and motor coordination of these diabetic rats was assessed using the tail-flick and rotarod treadmill tests, respectively. Activated caspase-3 and the Bax:Bcl-2 ratio, both biochemical indicators of apoptosis, were assessed in the dorsal half of the lumbar spinal cord tissue by western blotting. Treatment of the diabetic rats with RE improved hyperglycemia, hyperalgesia and motor deficit, suppressed caspase-3 activation and reduced the Bax:Bcl-2 ratio, suggesting that the RE has antihyperalgesic and neuroprotective effects in this rat model of STZ-induced diabetes. Cellular mechanisms underlying the observed effects may, at least partially, be related to the inhibition of neuronal apoptosis.
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