Biomol Ther.  2014 May;22(3):213-222.

L-Tetrahydropalmatine Ameliorates Development of Anxiety and Depression-Related Symptoms Induced by Single Prolonged Stress in Rats

  • 1Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center, Seoul 130-701, Republic of Korea.
  • 2The Graduate School of Basic Science of Korean Medicine, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul 130-701, Republic of Korea.


Abnormal adaptation of the stress-response system following traumatic stress can lead to alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis that may contribute to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The present study used several behavioral tests to investigate the anxiolytic-like and antidepressant activity of L-tetrahydropalmatine (L-THP) in an experimental rat model of anxiety and depression induced by single prolonged stress (SPS), an animal model of PTSD. Male rats were treated intraperitoneally (i.p.) with vehicle or varied doses of THP 30 min prior to SPS for 8 consecutive days. Daily THP (50 mg/kg) administration significantly increased the number and duration of open arm visits in the elevated plus maze (EPM) test, reduced the anxiety index, increased the risk assessment, and increased the number of head dips over the borders of the open arms after SPS. THP was also associated with increased time spent at the center of the open field, reduced grooming behaviors in the EPM test, and reduced time spent immobile in the forced swimming test (FST). It also blocked the decrease in neuropeptide Y (NPY) and the increase in corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) expression in the hypothalamus. This is the first study to determine that THP exerts pronounced anxiolytic-like and antidepressant effects on the development of the behavioral and biochemical symptoms associated with PTSD, indicating its prophylactic potential. Thus, THP reversed several behavioral impairments triggered by the traumatic stress of SPS and is a potential non-invasive therapeutic intervention for PTSD.


Post-traumatic stress disorder; Single prolonged stress; Anxiety; Neuropeptide Y; L-tetrahydropalmatine
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