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Evaluation of xiao yao san’s anti-anxiety activities


Researchers at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine evaluated the effects of xiao yao san (XYS) on anxiety-like behaviors and the mechanisms underlying its activity. They reported their findings in an article published in the journal Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin.

  • The researchers wanted to explore whether the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling pathway, which is involved in regulating many key cellular processes, is also involved in XYS’ effects.
  • They divided 40 rats into 5 groups:
    • The control group, which received deionized water
    • The model group, which also received deionized water
    • The SP600125 group, which underwent surgery
    • The per se group, which also underwent surgery
    • The XYS group, which received 3.9 g/kg XYS daily
  • They injected a 1 percent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) citrate buffer solution and SP600125 separately and bilaterally into the rats (via the brain’s ventricular system) in the two surgery groups.
  • They then subjected all the groups except for the control to 14 days of chronic immobilization stress (CIS).
  • On day 15, the researchers measured the body weight of the rats and subjected the animals to the elevated plus maze (EPM) and novelty suppressed feeding (NSF) tests.
  • They then examined JNK signaling pathway indices, including phosphorylated JNK (P-JNK), JNK, phosphorylated c-Jun (P-c-Jun) and cytochrome C (Cyt-C).
  • Based on the body weight and behavioral analyses of the model rats, the researchers confirmed the successful induction of anxiety-like behaviors in the animals.
  • They reported that P-JNK, JNK and P-c-Jun expression was altered in the hippocampus of the model rats.
  • Treatment with XYS and SP600125 for 14 days changed rat body weight and behaviors, along with P-JNK, JNK and P-c-Jun expression levels, for the better.
  • However, the treatments had no effect on Cyt-C.

These results suggest that XYS reduces anxiety-like behaviors induced by CIS, which might be related to the JNK signaling pathway in the hippocampus.

Journal Reference:

Zhao HB, Jiang YM, Li XJ, Liu YY, Bai XH, Li N, Chen JX, Liu Q, Yan ZY, Zhao FZ. XIAO YAO SAN IMPROVES THE ANXIETY-LIKE BEHAVIORS OF RATS INDUCED BY CHRONIC IMMOBILIZATION STRESS: THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE JNK SIGNALING PATHWAY IN THE HIPPOCAMPUS. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 01 February 2017;40(2):187–194. DOI: 10.1248/bpb.b16-00694

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