Memory deficits associated with khat (Catha edulis) use in rodents.

Kimani ST, Patel NB, Kioy PG. "Memory deficits associated with khat (Catha edulis) use in rodents." Metab Brain Dis. 2016;31(1):45-52.


Khat products and chewing practices are common in East Africa, Middle East for centuries with concomitant socio-economic and public health repercussions. We assessed memory deficits associated with khat use in rodents. Young male CBA mice, 5-7 weeks old (n = 20), weighing 25-35 g were used. Mice were treated with either 40, 120 or 360 mg/kg body weight (bw) methanolic khat extract, or 0.5 ml saline for 10 days. Spatial acquisition, reversal and reference memory were assessed using modified Morris Water maze (MMWM). Mice treated with 40 mg/kg khat extract had longer (t4 = 4.12 p = 0.015) and t4 = 2.28 p = 0.065) escape latency on first and second day during reversal relative to the baseline. Under 120 mg/kg khat dose, the escape latency was shorter (t4 = -2.49 p = 0.05) vs (t3 = -2.5 p = 0.05) on third and fourth day. Further, treatment with 360 mg/kg khat extract resulted in significantly longer time (49.13, 33.5, 40.2 and 35.75) vs. (23.5 s), compared to baseline. Mice treated with khat or control preferred the target quadrant post acquisition while differential pattern was seen during reversal phase. Mice treated with 40 or 120 mg/kg khat showed significant preference for target quadrant. Substantial time (19.9) was spent in the old target compared to the new (16.9 s) by animals treated with highest dose however, the difference was not significant. There is a biological plausibility that chronic khat use may induce memory deficits and impair cognitive flexibility. The differential patterns of memory deficits may reflect the differences in dose effect as well as time dependent impairment.

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