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Antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of the proprietary Chinese medicine Shexiang Baoxin pill in mice with chronic unpredictable mild stress

By Xi-Dan Zhou, Dong-Dong Shi and Zhang-Jin Zhang


Depression and anxiety often co-occur with cardiac diseases. The Shexiang Baoxin pill (SBP) is a proprietary Chinese medicine initially used to treat cardiac conditions. This study explored whether SBP has antidepressant and anxiolytic effects in addition to hormonal and psychotropic mechanisms. Mice underwent 6 weeks of chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) to induce depression- and anxiety-like behavior. During the 6-week experiment, mice received SBP at intragastric doses of 20.25 mg/kg or 40.5 mg/kg daily. Animals were then tested for depression in sucrose preference, forced-swimming, and tail suspension paradigms, and for anxiety in open field and elevated plus maze tests. Both SBP doses significantly reduced anhedonic behavior in the sucrose preference test; the high SBP dose also increased the number of entries into the central zone of the open field. SBP-treated mice had markedly lower blood levels of corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) than stressed mice treated with vehicle. Either low- or high-dose SBP reversed stress-induced reductions of norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA) metabolites and the expression levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), nerve growth factor (NGF), and glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in related brain regions. These results suggest that SBP could prevent and alleviate prolonged stress-induced anhedonia and anxiety in association with its suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis hyperactivity, modulation of brain monoamine neurotransmitter metabolism and neurotrophins. SBP may be particularly suitable for the management of depressive and anxiety disorders in patients with cardiac conditions. Keywords: Shexiang Baoxin pill (SBP), Depression, Anxiety, HPA axis, BDN

Topics: Nutrition. Foods and food supply, TX341-641, Therapeutics. Pharmacology, RM1-950
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2019
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.jfda.2018.08.001
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