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Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine ›› 2012, Vol. 10 ›› Issue (4): 424-429.doi: 10.3736/jcim20120411

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Effects of valerian consumption during pregnancy on cortical volume and the levels of zinc and copper in the brain tissue of mouse fetus

Alireza Mahmoudian1, Ziba Rajaei2(), Hossein Haghir1, Shahaboldin Banihashemian1, Javad Hami1   

  1. 1. Department of Anatomical Sciences and Cell Biology, School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran
    2. Neuroscience Research Center and Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran
  • Received:2011-12-09 Accepted:2011-12-28 Online:2012-04-20 Published:2018-04-15

Objective: The aim of the present study was to determine the effects of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) consumption in pregnancy on cortical volume and the levels of zinc and copper, two essential elements that affect brain development and function, in the brain tissues of mouse fetuses.
Methods: Pregnant female mice were treated with either saline or 1.2 g/kg body weight valerian extract intraperitoneally daily on gestation days (GD) 7 to 17. On GD 20, mice were sacrificed and their fetuses were collected. Fetal brains were dissected, weighed and processed for histological analysis. The volume of cerebral cortex was estimated by the Cavalieri principle. The levels of zinc and copper in the brain tissues were measured by atomic absorption spectroscopy.
Results: The results indicated that valerian consumption in pregnancy had no significant effect on brain weight, cerebral cortex volume and copper level in fetal brain. However, it significantly decreased the level of zinc in the brain (P<0.05).
Conclusion: Using valerian during midgestation do not have an adverse effect on cerebral cortex; however, it caused a significant decrease in zinc level in the fetal brain. This suggests that valerian use should be limited during pregnancy.

Key words: Valeriana, prenatal injuries, zinc, copper, stereotaxic techniques, mice


Group n Brain weight (mg) Cortical volume (mm3)
Control 15 140.67±7.00 2.41±0.25
Valerian 15 133.78±9.50 2.26±0.22

Figure 1

Photographs of cerebral cortex sections from mouse fetuses stained with hematoxylin-eosin (Light microscopy, ×40) A: Control group; B: Valerian group. Cortical regions are pointed by star signs."


Group n Zinc level Copper level
Control 15 36.80±2.34 4.10±0.75
Valerian 15 31.43±2.48* 3.17±1.30
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