Essential oils from the medicinal herbs upregulate dopamine transporter in rat pheochromocytoma cells

Min Sun Choi, Bang-sub Choi, Sang Heon Kim, Sokcheon Pak, Chul Ho Jang, Young-Won Chin, Young-Mi Kim, Dong-il Kim, Songhee Jeon, Byung-Soo Koo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The dopamine transporter (DAT) protein, a component of the dopamine system, undergoes adaptive neurobiological changes from drug abuse. Prevention of relapse and reduction of withdrawal symptoms are still the major limitations in the current pharmacological treatments of drug addiction. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of essential oils extracted from Elsholtzia ciliata, Shinchim, Angelicae gigantis Radix, and Eugenia caryophyllata, well-known traditional Korean medicines for addiction, on the modulation of dopamine system in amphetamine-treated cells and to explore the possible mechanism underlying its therapeutic effect. The potential cytotoxic effect of essential oils was evaluated in PC12 rat pheochromocytoma cells using cell viability assays. Quantification of DAT, p-CREB, p-MAPK, and p-Akt was done by immunoblotting. DAT was significantly reduced in cells treated with 50 μM of amphetamine in a time-dependent manner. No significant toxicity of essential oils from Elsholtzia ciliata and Shinchim was observed at doses of 10, 25, and 50 μg/mL. However, essential oils from A. gigantis Radix at a dose of 100 μg/mL and E. caryophyllata at doses of 50 and 100 μg/mL showed cytotoxicity. Treatment with GBR 12909, a highly selective DAT inhibitor, significantly increased DAT expression compared with that of amphetamine only by enhancing phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) and Akt. In addition, essential oils effectively induced hyperphosphorylation of cyclic-AMP response element-binding protein (CREB), MAPK, and Akt, which resulted in DAT upregulation. Our study implies that the essential oils may rehabilitate brain dopamine function through increased DAT availability in abstinent former drug users.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1112-1120
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Medicinal Food
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


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