Korean J Physiol Pharmacol.  2014 Jun;18(3):191-200. 10.4196/kjpp.2014.18.3.191.

Alpha-Asarone, a Major Component of Acorus gramineus, Attenuates Corticosterone-Induced Anxiety-Like Behaviours via Modulating TrkB Signaling Process

  • 1Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul 130-701, Korea. bombi@khu.ac.kr dhhahm@khu.ac.kr
  • 2The Graduate School of Basic Science of Korean Medicine, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul 130-701, Korea.


We investigated the anxiolytic-like activity of alpha-asarone (AAS) from Acorus gramineus in an experimental rat model of anxiety induced by repeated administration of the exogenous stress hormone corticosterone (CORT). The putative anxiolytic effect of AAS was studied in behavioral tests of anxiety, such as the elevated plus maze (EPM) test and the hole-board test (HBT) in rats. For 21 consecutive days, male rats received 50, 100, or 200 mg/kg AAS (i.p.) 30 min prior to a daily injection of CORT. Dysregulation of the HPA axis in response to the repeated CORT injections was confirmed by measuring serum levels of CORT and the expression of corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) in the hypothalamus. Daily AAS (200 mg/kg) administration increased open-arm exploration significantly in the EPM test, and it increased the duration of head dipping activity in the HBT. It also blocked the increase in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) expression in the locus coeruleus (LC) and decreased mRNA expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor, TrkB, in the hippocampus. These results indicated that the administration of AAS prior to high-dose exogenous CORT significantly improved anxiety-like behaviors, which are associated with modification of the central noradrenergic system and with BDNF function in rats. The current finding may improve understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms responsible for changes in emotions induced by repeated administration of high doses of CORT or by elevated levels of hormones associated with chronic stress. Thus, AAS did exhibit an anxiolytic-like effects in animal models of anxiety.


Anxiety; Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; Corticosterone; Tyrosine hydroxylase; alpha-asarone
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