The facilitative effects of bilobalide, a unique constituent of Ginkgo biloba, on synaptic transmission and plasticity in hippocampal subfields
EGb 761 is a standardized extract from the Ginkgo biloba leaf and is purported to improve age-related memory impairment. The acute and chronic effect of EGb 761 on synaptic transmission and plasticity in hippocampal slices from young adult (8-12 weeks) and aged (18-24 months) C57Bl/6 mice was tested because hippocampal plasticity is believed to be a key component of memory. Acutely applied EGb 761 significantly increased neuronal excitability in slices from aged mice by reducing the population spike threshold and increased the early phase of long-term potentiation, though there was no effect in slices from young adults. In chronically treated mice fed for 30 days with an EGb 761-supplemented diet, EGb 761 significantly increased the population spike threshold and long-term potentiation in slices from aged animals, but had no effect on slices from young adults. The rapid effects of EGb 761 on plasticity indicate a direct interaction with the glutamatergic system and raise interesting implications with respect to a mechanism explaining its effect on cognitive enhancement in human subjects experiencing dementia.