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J Tradit Chin Med. 2013 Apr;33(2):228-32.

Effect of tribulus terrestris saponins on behavior and neuroendocrine in chronic mild stress depression rats.

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Department of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, The Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha 410011, China.



To observe the effect of tribulus terrestris saponins (TTS) on behavior and neuroendocrine of chronic mild stress (CMS) depression rats.


Thirty male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly allocated to six groups: vehicle group, CMS group, CMS + fluoxetine group and CMS + TTS of low-dosage (0.375 g/kg), medium-dosage (0.75 g/kg) and high-dosage (2.25 g/kg) groups. All rats except the vehicle group singly housed and exposed an unpredicted sequence of mild stressors. The behavior of rats was detected by open-field test (OFT) and sucrose preference test (SPT). The concentration of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in serum of the rats were detected by radioimmunoassay. The concentration of cortisol (CORT) in serum was detected by enzyme immunoassay.


CMS procedure not only significantly decreased the scores of crossing, rears and grooming in OFT and the sucrose preference in SPT (all P < 0.01), but also markedly increased serum CRH and CORT levels (both P < 0.05). Treatment with TTS (0.75 and 2.25 g/kg) could significantly prevent all of these abnormalities induced by CMS (P < 0.05, P < 0.01).


CMS can affect rat behavior and neuroendocrine and cause depression. TTS has the antagonism on CMS and produce antidepressive effects.

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