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ACS Chem Neurosci. 2016 Aug 17;7(8):1068-76. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.6b00011. Epub 2016 Jun 24.

Instant and Persistent Antidepressant Response of Gardenia Yellow Pigment Is Associated with Acute Protein Synthesis and Delayed Upregulation of BDNF Expression in the Hippocampus.

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School of Behavioral Sciences, The Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo , Tel- Aviv 61083, Israel.
Department of Education and Psychology, The Open University of Israel , 108 Ravutski St., P.O. BOX 808, Raanana 43107, Israel.


Gardenia yellow pigment (GYP) is a collection of compounds with shared structure of crocin, which confers antidepressant activity. GYP is remarkably enriched in Gardenia jasminoides Ellis, implicated in rapid antidepressant effects that are exerted through enhanced neuroplasticity. This study aims to investigate the rapid antidepressant-like activity of GYP and its underlying mechanism. After the optimal dose was determined, antidepressant responses in tail suspension test or forced swim test were monitored at 30 min, 1 day, 3 days, and 7 days post a single GYP administration. Rapid antidepressant potential was tested using learned helplessness paradigm. The expression of proteins involved in hippocampal neuroplasticity was determined. The effect of blockade of protein synthesis on GYP's antidepressant response was examined. Antidepressant response was detected at 30 min, and lasted for at least 3 days post a single administration of GYP. A single administration of GYP also reversed the deficits in learned helplessness test. Thirty minutes post GYP administration, ERK signaling was activated, and its downstream effector phosphorylated eukaryotic elongation factor 2 was inhibited, contributing to increased protein translation. Expression of synaptic proteins GluR1 and synapsin 1 was upregulated. Blockade of protein synthesis with anisomycin blunted the immediate antidepressant response of GYP. CREB signaling and BDNF expression were upregulated at 24 h, but not at 30 min. In conclusion, GYP-induced immediate antidepressant response was dependent on synthesis of proteins, including synaptic proteins. This was followed by enhanced expression of CREB and BDNF, which likely mediated the persistent antidepressant responses.


BDNF; CREB; Gardenia yellow pigment; Yueju; protein synthesis

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