Influence of xiaoyaosan on depressive-like behaviors in chronic stress-depressed rats through regulating tryptophan metabolism in hippocampus

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Background: Tryptophan metabolism has always been considered to play a vital role in mental disorder diseases, and how traditional Chinese formula Xiaoyaosan regulates the tryptophan metabolism is a complement to the pathogenesis of depression. This study established a depression rat model by the chronic immobilization stress (CIS) method and observed the change in tryptophan metabolism in hippocampus and the effects of Xiaoyaosan. Methods: Forty-eight male Sprague Dawley (SD) rats were randomly divided into the following four groups: control group, CIS group, Xiaoyaosan group, and fluoxetine group. The depression model was established by the 21-day CIS. The food intake and body weight were recorded, and the sucrose preference test (SPT), novelty suppressed feeding (NSF) test and open field test (OFT) were also used to evaluate the model. Then, the contents of tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) in hippocampus were detected by the ELISA method, and the expression levels of tryptophan hydrogenase 2 (TPH2) and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) in hippocampus were determined by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction reaction (qRT-PCR) and Western blot methods. Results: The behavioral data showed a significant difference between the model group and the normal group. The 5-HT content in the hippocampi of CIS rats was significantly reduced, whereas the tryptophan content in the hippocampi of model rats was significantly increased. The TPH2 level in hippocampus of the model group was significantly decreased, and the IDO1 level was significantly increased. Xiaoyaosan and fluoxetine could significantly reverse these changes and had obvious curative effects. Conclusion: The abnormal tryptophan metabolism existed in the hippocampi of chronic stress-depressed rats, which was closely related to the pathogenesis of depression. Xiaoyaosan could improve the tryptophan metabolism by regulating the expression levels of TPH2 and IDO1, thus exerting an antidepressant-like effect.




Jiao, H., Yan, Z., Ma, Q., Li, X., Jiang, Y., Liu, Y., & Chen, J. (2019). Influence of xiaoyaosan on depressive-like behaviors in chronic stress-depressed rats through regulating tryptophan metabolism in hippocampus. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 15, 21–31.

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