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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Aug 1;32(6):1516-20. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2008.05.010. Epub 2008 May 20.

Repeated administration of Yokukansan inhibits DOI-induced head-twitch response and decreases expression of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)2A receptors in the prefrontal cortex.

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Department of Neuropharmacology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Fukuoka University, and Department of Pharmacy, Kyushu University Hospital, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.


Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are commonly seen in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other forms of senile dementia. BPSD have a serious impact on the quality of life of dementia patients, as well as their caregivers. However, an effective drug therapy for BPSD has not been established. Recently, the traditional Japanese medicine Yokukansan (YKS, Yi-gan san in Chinese) has been reported to improve BPSD in a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled study. Moreover, abnormalities of the serotonin (5-HT) system such as 5-HT2A receptors have been reported to be associated with BPSD of AD patients. In the present study, we investigated the effect of YKS on head-twitch response induced by 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI, 5 mg/kg, i.p.) in mice, a behavioral response that is mediated, in part, by 5-HT2A receptors. Acute treatment with YKS (100 and 300 mg/kg, p.o.) had no effect on the DOI-induced head-twitch response, whilst 14 days repeated treatment with YKS (300 mg/kg, p.o.) significantly inhibited this response. Moreover, repeated treatment with YKS (300 mg/kg, p.o.) decreased expression of 5-HT2A receptors in the prefrontal cortex, which is part of the circuitry mediating the head-twitch response. These findings suggest that the inhibition of DOI-induced head-twitch response by YKS may be mediated, in part, by altered expression of 5-HT2A receptors in the prefrontal cortex, which suggests the involvement of the 5-HT system in psychopharmacological effects of YKS.

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