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Braz J Med Biol Res. 2002 Apr;35(4):473-7.

Effect of acute treatment with a water-alcohol extract of Erythrina mulungu on anxiety-related responses in rats.

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  • 1Laboratório de Psicofarmacologia, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brasil.


We investigated the effect of acute oral treatment with a water-alcohol extract of the inflorescence of Erythrina mulungu (EM, Leguminosae-Papilionaceae) (100, 200 and 400 mg/kg) on rats submitted to different anxiety models: the elevated T-maze (for inhibitory avoidance and escape measurements), the light/dark transition, and the cat odor test. These models were selected for their presumed capacity to demonstrate specific subtypes of anxiety disorders as recognized in clinical practice. Treatment with 200 mg/kg EM impaired avoidance latencies (avoidance 1 - 200 mg/kg EM: 18 +/- 7 s, control group: 40 +/- 9 s; avoidance 2 - 200 mg/kg EM: 15 +/- 4 s, control group: 110.33 +/- 38 s) in a way similar to the reference drug diazepam (avoidance 1: 3 +/- 0.79 s; avoidance 2: 3 +/- 0.76 s), without altering escape. Additionally, the same treatments increased the number of transitions (200 mg/kg EM: 6.33 +/- 0.90, diazepam: 10 +/- 1.54, control group: 2.78 +/- 0.60) between the two compartments and the time spent in the lighted compartment in the light/dark transition model (200 mg/kg EM: 39 +/- 7 s; diazepam: 61 +/- 9 s; control group: 14 +/- 4 s). The dose of 400 mg/kg EM also increased this last measurement (38 +/- 8 s). These results were not due to motor alterations since no significant effects were detected in the number of crossings or rearings in the arena. Furthermore, neither EM nor diazepam altered the behavioral responses of rats to a cloth impregnated with cat odor. These observations suggest that EM exerts anxiolytic-like effects on a specific subset of defensive behaviors, particularly those that have been shown to be sensitive to low doses of benzodiazepines.

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