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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 37  |  Page : 50-56

Antidepressant-like activity of Chaihu-Shugan-San aqueous extract in rats and its possible mechanism

1 Department of Integrative Medicine, Institute of Integrative Medicine, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University; Department of Integrative Medicine, Key Unit of State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine of the People's Republic of China, Changsha, Hunan, China
2 Department of Nuclear Medicine, Xiangya 3rd Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China

Correspondence Address:
Sue Wang
Institute of Integrative Medicine, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, No. 87, Xiangya Road, Changsha, Hunan 410 008
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Source of Support: The National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30801506), The Traditional Chinese Medical Research Foundation of Hunan Province (No. 2009048), Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-1296.127342

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Background: Chaihu-Shugan-San (CHSGS), a traditional Chinese medicinal formula, is commonly used for the treatment of depression in China. However, the molecular mechanism underlying its antidepressant action is unknown. Objective: The objective of this study is to evaluate the antidepressant-like effects of CHSGS and further explore the possible molecular mechanism implicated in its actions. Materials and Methods: The rats were randomly divided into four groups: The normal control group, the model control group, the CHSGS group and the fluoxetine control group. The antidepressant-like effects of CHSGS aqueous extract were assessed in rats exposed to chronic mild stress (CMS) using the open-field test and sucrose water consumption test, its underlying mechanism of anti-depression was explored by determining the effect of CHSGS on the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and phospho-ERK (P-ERK) in the hippocampus using western blot. The aqueous extract of CHSGS at a dose of standard (5.9 g/kg·d) was administered intragastrically for 14 days during the CMS model while the fluoxetine control group was given at the same time using fluoxetine hydrochloride (1.8 mg/kg·d). Results: The stressed rats demonstrated decreased locomotor activity in open field test and reduction in sucrose consumption and decreased levels of P-ERK1/2 and the ratio of P-ERK1/2 to total ERK1/2 in the hippocampus. CHSGS alleviated the depressive-like behaviors and increased levels of P-ERK1/2 and the ratio of P-ERK1/2 to total ERK1/2 in stressed rats as well as fluoxetine. Conclusion: In summary, these results suggest that CHSGS aqueous extract possesses an antidepressant-like activity in CMS induced depression model rats, which might be mediated, at least in part, by reversing the stress-induced disruption of ERK activity.

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