A Morphometeric Study on CA3 Hippocampal Field in Young Rats Following Maternal Administration of Boswellia Serrata Resin During Gestation

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Anatomy, Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences, Yazd, Iran.

2 Depatment of Anatomical Sciences, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


It has previously been shown that prenatal maternal administration of Boswellia serrata gum resin (Frankincense) improved learning and memory performance associated with an increase in the size of neuronal bodies in CA3 (Cornu Ammonis) of hippocampus. Continuing the previous work, a morphometric study was designed on CA3 field to examine precisely the effect of prenatal administration of frankincense on the structure of this region.
Materials and Methods
2 months-old male Wistar rats whose mothers were given orally the aqueous extract of the Boswellia serrata (0.1 g/kg/day) during gestation (3 weeks) were anesthetized and transcardially perfused with phosphate-buffered solution of 4% formaldehyde and 1% glutaraldehyde (n=8). Each brain was removed and divided into two hemispheres. One hemisphere selected at random for estimating the volumes of CA3 layers, and the other for morphometeric analysis of CA3 neuronal dendrites. The Cavalieri principle employed to estimate the volumes and a quantitative Golgi study used to analyse the dendritic arborizations.
Comparisons revealed that the control rats had lower volumes than the experimental animals in all layers of CA3 (p<0.05). It was also indicated that the neurons of CA3 in experimental rats had more dendritic segments (31.25±3.33) than the controls (27.5±2.67), p<0.05. The dendritic branching density was higher in experimental rats relative to that found in the control rats.
Results of this study provide a neuroanatomical basis that may be relevant to the early reported enhancement of learning and memory abilities in offspring.


1- Duwiejua M, Zeitlin IJ, Waterman PG, Chapman J. Anti-inflammatory activity of resins from some species of the plant family Burseracea. Planta Medica 1993; 59: 6-12.
2- Huan Mt, Badmaev V, Ding Y, Liu Y, Xie JG, Ho CT. Anti-tumor and anti carcinogenic activities of triterpenoid,beta boswellic acid. Biofactors 2000; 13: 225-30.
3- Menon MK, Karr A. Analgesic and psychopharmacological effects of the gum resin of Boswellia serrata. Planta Medica1971; 4: 332-341.
4- Zargari A. Herbal Drugs. Vol. 1, Fifth edition, Tehran: University publication; 1989. 550-553 (In Persian).
5- Hosseini-sharifabad M, Esfandiary E, Alaei H. Effect of frankincense aqueous extract during gestational period on increasing power of learning and memory in adult offspring. J Isfahan Med Sch  2004; 71: 16-20 (In Persian).
6- Hosseini- sharifabad M, Esfandiary E. Quantitative analysis of hippocampal neuron number and size following prenatal administration of Boswellia serrata gum resin in adult rats. J Isfahan Med Sch  2005; 77:58-63.
7- Eichenbaum H..The hippocampal system and declarative memory in animals. JCogn  Neurosci 1992; 4: 217-231.
8- Rusakov DA, Davies HA, Harrison E. Ultrastructural synaptic correlates of spatial learning in rat hippocampus. Neuroscience 1997; 80: 69-77.
9- Horner CH.  Plasticity of the dendritic spine. Prog Neurobio 1993; 41: 281-321.
10- Gundersen HJG, Bendtsen TF, Korbo L, Marcussen N, Møller A, Nielsen k. Some new, simple and efficient stereological methods and their use in pathological research and diagnosis. APMIS 1988;96: 379-394.
11-Hosseini-sharifabad M, Esfandiari E, Alaee H, Moatar F. Effect of maternal consumption of aqueous extract of the gum resin of Boswellia serrata during lactation on increasing power of learning and memory in adult offsprings. IJBM S 2003: 6(3): 207-211(In Persian).
12- Chapman RH  ,Stern J. Maternal stress and pituitary-adrenal manipulations during pregnancy in rats: effects on morphology and sexual behavior of male offspring.J Comp Physiol Psychol 1978; 92:1074-1083.
13- Eckenhoff M F, Rakic R. Radial organization of the hippocampal dentate gyrus: a Golgi, ultrastructural and immonocytochemical analysis in the developing Rhesus monkey. J Comp. Neurol 1984; 223: 1-21.
14- West MJ, Slomianka L, Gundersen HJG. Unbiased stereological estimation of the total number of neurons in the subdivisions of the rat hippocampus using the optical fractionator. Anat. Rec 1991;231: 482-497.
15- Green EJ, Jurska JM.  The dendritic morphology of hippocampal dentate gyrus cells varies with their position in the granular cell layer: a quantitative Golgi study. Exp Brain Res 1985;59:582-586.
16- De Ruiter JP, Uylings HBM.  Morphometric and dendritic analysis of fascia dentata granule cells in human aging and senile dementia. Brain Res1987; 402:217-229.
17- Uylings HBM, Ruiz-Marcos A, Van Pelt j. The metric analysis of three- dimensional dendritic patterns: a methodological review. J Neurosci Meth 1986;18: 127-151.
18- Uemura E, Carriquiry A, Kliemann W, Goodwin J. Mathematical modeling of dendritic growth in vitro. Brain Res 1995; 671: 187-194.
19- Gundersen HJG, Jensen EB. The efficiency of systematic sampling in stereology and its prediction. J Microsc 1987; 147: 229-263
20- West MJ, Gundersen HJG. Unbiased stereological estimations of the number of neurons in the human hippocampus. J Comp Neurol 1990; 296: 1–22.
21- Weinstock M. Alterations induced by gestational stress in brain morphology and behaviour of the offspring. Prog Neurobiol 2001; 65: 427–451.
22- Van den Hove DL, Steinbusch HW, Scheepens A, Van de Berg WD, Kooiman LA, Boosten BJ, et al. Prenatal stress and neonatal rat brain development. Neuroscience 2006; 137(1):145-155.
23- Kim H, Lee MH, Chang HK, Lee TH, Lee HH, Shin MC, et al. Influence of prenatal noise and music on the spatial memory and neurogenesis in the hippocampus of developing rats. Brain Dev  2006; 28:109-14
24- Schmitz C, Bultmann E, Gube M, Korr H. Neuron loss in the mouse hippocampus following prenatal injection of triated thymidine or saline. Int J Dev Neurosci 1999; 17: 185-190.
25- Fujioka A, Fujioka T, Ishida Y, Maekawa T, Nakamura S.  Differential effects of prenatal stress on the morphological maturation of hippocampal neurons. Neuroscience 2006; 141, 907-915.
26- Hosseini-sharifabad M., Hadinedoushan H. Prenatal stress induces learning deficits and is associated with a decrease in granules and CA3 cell dendritic tree size in rat hippocampus. Anatom Sci Intl 2007; 82:211-217
27- Hosseini-sharifabad M, Nyengaard JR. Design-based estimation of neuronal number and individual neuronal volume in the rat hippocampus. J Neurosci Meth 2007; 162: 206–214.