Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior

Potential of novel phytoecdysteroids isolated from Vitex doniana in the treatment depression: involvement of monoaminergic systems.

PMID 25449355


Vitex doniana Sweet (Verbanaceae) is used in traditional African medicine for the treatment of neurological disorders including depression. In our previous studies, three new phytoecdysteroids were isolated from methanol stem bark extract of V. doniana (VD) (11β-hydroxy-20-deoxyshidasterone, 21-hydroxyshidasterone, and 2,3-acetonide-24-hydroxyecdysone) along with known ecdysteroids. This study was designed to investigate antidepressant-like effect of VD and the isolated phytoecdysteroids in behavioral models of despair, forced-swim test (FST) and tail-suspension test (TST) in mice. VD (100 and 200mg/kg, p.o.) treatment reduced (P<0.05) the duration of immobility in both tests without affecting the locomotor activity and exploratory behavior as observed in the open field test. Similarly, 21-hydroxyshidasterone, 11β-hydroxy-20-deoxyshidasterone, ajugasterone and 24-hydroxyecdysone acute oral treatments significantly reduced immobility time with peak effect at 10mg/kg, which was similar to the effect of conventional antidepressants (imipramine and fluoxetine) in the FST. Conversely, pretreatment of mice with yohimbine (1mg/kg, i.p., α2-adrenoceptor antagonist), ketanserin (5mg/kg, i.p., 5-HT2A/2C receptor antagonist) or sulpiride (dopamine D2 receptor antagonist) prevented the antidepressant-like effect of 21-hydroxyshidasterone while the effects of 11β-hydroxy-20-deoxyshidasterone and 24-hydroxyecdysone were blocked by yohimbine or ketanserin in the FST. Moreover, the anti-immobility effect elicited by ajugasterone was prevented by prazosin (62.5μg/kg, i.p., α1-adrenoceptor antagonist) pretreatment. Our findings demonstrated that V. doniana and its phytoecdysteroids constituents elicited antidepressant-like effect in behavioral paradigm of despair. Furthermore, 21-hydroxyshidasterone produces its antidepressant-like effect through interaction with α2-adrenoceptor, 5-HT2A/2C receptor and dopamine D2-receptors but 11β-hydroxy-20-deoxyshidasterone and 24-hydroxyecdysone effects depend on interaction with α2-adrenoceptor and 5-HT2A/2C receptors while ajugasterone produces its action through interaction with post-synaptic α1-adrenoceptors. Thus, phytoecdysteroids could play a pivotal role in the treatment of major depression.