Background: Literature data indicate that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), cyclic-AMP response element-binding protein (CREB) and phospho-CREB (pCREB) may have a place in depression. BDNF belongs to the neurotrophin family that plays an important role in proliferation, survival and differentiation of different cell populations in the mammalian nervous system. The herbal mixture used in the present study consists of Euphoria longana, Houttuynia cordata and Dioscorea japonica. The purpose of the present study was to determine the neuroprotective effect of herbal mixture. We also tested the hypothesis that administration of herbs reverses memory deficits and promotes the protein expression of BDNF in the mouse brain. Methods: Mice were randomized into four different treatment groups (n = 10/group). Normal and stress groups received regular lab chow without stress and under stress conditions, respectively, for 3 weeks. The animals in the stress group were immobilized for 4 hours a day for 2 weeks. Different doses of herbal mixture (206 and 618 mg/kg) were administered for 3 weeks to those mice under stress conditions. Mice were analyzed by behavioral tests and immunoblotting examination in the hippocampus and cortex. An additional in vitro investigation was performed to examine whether herbs induce neurotoxicity in a human neuroblastoma cell line, SH-SY5Y cells. Results: No significant toxicity of herbs on human neuroblastoma cells was observed. These herbs demonstrated an inductive effect on the expression of BDNF, pCREB and pAkt. For spatial working memory test, herbal mixture fed mice exhibited an increased level of spontaneous alternation (p < 0.01) compared to those in stress conditions. Moreover, herbal mixture produced highly significant (p < 0.01) reduction in the immobility time in the tail suspension test. Mice in the herbal mixture groups demonstrated lower serum corticosterone concentration than mice in the stress group (p < 0.05). Effects of the oral administration of herbal mixture on protein levels of BDNF in the hippocampi and cortices were significant. Conclusions: Our study showed that herbal mixture administration has antidepressant effects in mice. It is proposed that adverse events such as stress and depression can modulate the expression of molecular players of cellular plasticity in the brain.
Jeon, S., Lee, C-H., Liu, Q. F., Kim, G. W., Koo, B-S., & Pak, S. (2014). Alteration in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) after treatment of mice with herbal mixture containing Euphoria longana, Houttuynia cordata and Dioscorea japonica. Daru, 22, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40199-014-0077-2