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Neuropharmacology. 2010 Mar-Apr;58(4-5):767-73. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2009.12.014. Epub 2009 Dec 28.

Mechanism of St. John's wort extract (STW3-VI) during chronic restraint stress is mediated by the interrelationship of the immune, oxidative defense, and neuroendocrine system.

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College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutics, University of Florida, PO Box 100494, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA.


Chronic stress is a contributing risk factor for the development of psychiatric illnesses such as anxiety and depression disorders. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the mechanisms of action of the standardized St. John's wort extract (STW3-VI; SJW) in a chronic restraint stress model. Markers of antioxidant capacity such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and catalase (CAT) in the hippocampus and hypothalamus, and plasma levels of ACTH and corticosterone as well as the inflammatory markers IL-6 and TNF-alpha were determined in rats exposed to chronic restraint stress for 21 consecutive days. In addition, total body and relative organ weights as well as behavioral changes in the open field test were evaluated on the last day. The results show that stressed animals decreased in open field activity compared to unstressed animals, which could be reversed by fluoxetine (10mg/kg, p.o.) and SJW (125-750mg/kg, p.o.) treatment. In addition, chronic restraint stress significantly decreased thymus and spleen indices in the stressed control group. However, treating stressed rats with fluoxetine or STW3-VI produced a significant and dose dependent increase in both thymus and spleen indices compared to stressed controls. Additionally, SJW and fluoxetine significantly reduced stress-induced increases in plasma ACTH and corticosterone levels. Furthermore, the administration of SJW significantly reduced the stress-induced increase in TNF-alpha levels. Our data provide new evidence for the hypothesis that the mechanism of action of STW3-VI is mediated by the interrelationship between the immune, oxidative defense and neuroendocrine system.

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