Silkworm pupae (Bombyx mori) is an edible insect that has been reported to contain high-quality proteins, lipids, minerals, and vitamins, and to possess high antioxidant activity. However, there have been no studies on the neuroprotective effects of silkworm pupae. Therefore, we investigated a water extract of silkworm pupae with protease (WSP) as a functional and therapeutic candidate for neurodegenerative disorders. First, we evaluated the effect of WSP on oxidative stress-induced mouse hippocampal neuronal cells (HT-22 cells). Cell viability diminished by addition of glutamate but was significantly recovered by WSP treatment. Furthermore, WSP significantly decreased the release of lactate dehydrogenase and generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species in oxidative stress-induced cells. In addition, in scopolaminetreated mice, WSP attenuated memory impairment, as demonstrated in the Morris water maze and passive avoidance tests, indicating protection of neuronal cells against oxidative damage. Moreover, WSP prevented scopolamine-induced increases in acetylcholinesterase activity and decreases in choline-acetyltransferase activity. Finally, treatment with WSP enhanced the antioxidant defense system by regulating the activities of antioxidant enzymes. Overall, this study showed that WSP exerted antioxidant and memory enhancing action against oxidative stress.
antioxidant enzymes, cholinergic nervous system, memory enhancing effect, silkworm pupae