Kava is a herbal anxiolytic drug. The present study investigates the response of central cholinergic neurotransmission to kava treatment by measuring acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity in cortex, hippocampus and striatum of adult male rats. The present study demonstrates also the effect of chronic use of kava on some liver and kidney function parameters in the sera of rats. Kava administration (75 mg/kg) induced an increase in AChE activity in the striatum after 1 week. However, significant decreases in the enzyme activity were obtained after 4 weeks of treatment in the three brain areas examined. No significant changes were observed in the enzyme activity on stopping kava administration. Kava administration for 4 weeks resulted in significant decreases in serum aspartate transaminase (AST) and alanine transaminase (ALT) activities and creatinine level, while alkaline phosphatase activity and albumin level did not show any significant changes. However, total protein and urea levels were increased significantly. In conclusion, the cholinergic system in the cortex, hippocampus and striatum may play a vital role in the anxiolytic action of kava. The present study showed no adverse effects of kava on liver and kidney function parameters.
Key words: Kava, acetylcholinesterase, cortex, hippocampus, striatum.
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