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Modulation of Human Motor Cortical Excitability and Plasticity by Opuntia Ficus Indica Fruit Consumption: Evidence from a Preliminary Study through Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation

  • Authors: Gambino, Giuditta; Brighina, Filippo; Allegra, Mario; Marrale, Maurizio; Collura, Giorgio; Gagliardo, Cesare; Attanzio, Alessandro; Tesoriere, Luisa; Di Majo, Danila; Ferraro, Giuseppe; Sardo, Pierangelo; Giglia, Giuseppe
  • Publication year: 2022
  • Type: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Indicaxanthin (IX) from Opuntia Ficus Indica (OFI) has been shown to exert numerous biological effects both in vitro and in vivo, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuro-modulatory activity in rodent models. Our goal was to investigate the eventual neuro-active role of orally assumed fruits containing high levels of IX at nutritionally-relevant amounts in healthy subjects, exploring cortical excitability and plasticity in the human motor cortex (M1). To this purpose, we applied paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation and anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (a-tDCS) in basal conditions and followed the consumption of yellow cactus pear fruits containing IX or white cactus pear fruits devoid of IX (placebo). Furthermore, resting state-functional MRI (rs-fMRI) preliminary acquisitions were performed before and after consumption of the same number of yellow fruits. Our data revealed that the consumption of IX-containing fruits could specifically activate intracortical excitatory circuits, differently from the placebo-controlled group. Furthermore, we found that following the ingestion of IX-containing fruits, elevated network activity of glutamatergic intracortical circuits can homeostatically be restored to baseline levels following a-tDCS stimulation. No significant differences were observed through rs-fMRI acquisitions. These outcomes suggest that IX from OFI increases intracortical excitability of M1 and leads to homeostatic cortical plasticity responses.