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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2008 Sep;90(3):399-403. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2008.03.022. Epub 2008 Apr 4.

Spinosin, a C-glycoside flavonoid from semen Zizhiphi Spinozae, potentiated pentobarbital-induced sleep via the serotonergic system.

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Department of Pharmacology, Peking University, School of Basic Medical Science, 38 Xueyuan Lu, Beijing 100083, China.


Semen Zizhiphi Spinozae has been used extensively for the treatment of insomnia. This study investigated the effect and possible mechanism of action of spinosin (also known as 2''-beta-o-glucopyranosyl swertisin), a major constituent of semen Zizhiphi Spinozae, on sleep in mice. The present results showed that spinosin significantly and dose-dependently augmented pentobarbital (45 mg/kg, i.p.)-induced sleep, reflected by increased sleep time and reduced sleep latency assessed with the loss-of-righting reflex, and these effects were potentiated by the 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP, 2.5 mg/kg,i.p.). With a subhypnotic dose of pentobarbital (28 mg/kg, i.p.), spinosin significantly increased the rate of sleep onset and exhibited a synergistic effect with 5-HTP (2.5 mg/kg, i.p.). Pretreatment with p-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA, 300 mg/kg, s.c.), an inhibitor of tryptophan hydroxylase, significantly decreased pentobarbital-induced sleep time, and spinosin significantly reversed this effect. The dopamine precursor L-3-(3, 4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) reduced pentobarbital-induced sleep, an effect not significantly affected by spinosin. These results suggest that spinosin potentiated pentobarbital-induced sleep via a serotonergic mechanism.

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