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Life Sci. 1998;62(25):2329-40.

Effect of chronic administration of Ginkgo biloba extract or Ginkgolide on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in the rat.

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Laboratoire de Neuroendocrinologie Expérimentale, INSERM U 297, Institut Jean Roche, Faculté de Médecine Secteur Nord, Marseille, France.


The hypersecretion of glucocorticoids during exposure to various stressors may induce or worsen pathological states in predisposed subjects. Therefore it is of interest to evaluate drugs able to reduce glucocorticoid secretion. It has recently been shown that chronic administration of a Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) inhibits stress-induced corticosterone hypersecretion through a reduction in the number of adrenal peripheral benzodiazepine receptors. The present study was designed to analyze the effect of EGb 761 and one of its components, Ginkgolide B on the biosynthesis and secretion of CRH and AVP, the hypothalamic neurohormones that regulate the pituitary-adrenal axis. Chronic administration of EGb 761 (50 or 100 mg/kg p.o. daily for 14 days) reduced basal corticosterone secretion and the subsequent increase in CRH and AVP gene expression. Under the same conditions, surgically-induced increase in CRH secretion was attenuated while the activation of CRH gene expression, ACTH and corticosterone secretion following insulin-induced hypoglycemia remained unchanged. Chronic i.p. injection of Ginkgolide B reduced basal corticosterone secretion without alteration in the subsequent CRH and AVP increase. However, the stimulation of CRH gene expression by insulin-induced hypoglycemia was attenuated by Ginkgolide B. These data confirm that the administration of EGb 761 and Ginkgolide B reduces corticosterone secretion. In addition, these substances act also at the hypothalamic level and are able to reduce CRH expression and secretion. However the latter effect appears to be complex and may depend upon both the nature of stress and substance (Ginkgolide B or other compounds of EGb 761).

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