Therapeutic potential of silymarin in chronic unpredictable mild stress induced depressive-like behavior in mice.
Silymarin, a plant-derived polyphenolic flavonoid of Silybum marianum, elicited significant antidepressant-like activity in an acute restraint stress model of depression. It improved monoamines, mainly 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) levels in the cortex, dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE) in the cerebellum in mice. The present study was undertaken to explore the antidepressant potential of silymarin in chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) induced depressive-like behavior in mice, and to find out its probable mechanism(s) of action, mainly neurogenesis, neuroinflammation, and/or oxidative stress. The mice were subjected to CUMS for 28 days (4 weeks) and administered with silymarin (100 mg/kg and 200 mg/kg), or fluoxetine or vehicle from days 8 to 28 (3 weeks simultaneously). Animals were evaluated for behavioral changes, such as anhedonia by sucrose preference test, behavioral despair by forced swim test, and exploratory behaviors by an open field test. In addition, neurobiochemical alterations, mainly monoamines, 5-HT, NE, DA, neurotrophic factor BDNF, and cytokines, IL-6, TNF-α, oxidant-antioxidant parameters by determining the malondialdehyde formation (an index of lipid peroxidation process), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) activity in hippocampus and cerebral cortex along with serum corticosterone were investigated. Our findings reveal that mice subjected to CUMS exhibited lower sucrose preference, increase immobility time without affecting general locomotion of the animals, and reduce BDNF, 5-HT, NE, and DA level, increased serum corticosterone, IL-6 and TNF-α along with an oxidant-antioxidant imbalance in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. Silymarin significantly reversed the CUMS-induced changes in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex in mice. Thus, the possible mechanism involved in the antidepressant-like activity of silymarin is correlated to the alleviation of monoaminergic, neurogenesis (enhancing 5-HT, NE, and BDNF levels), and attenuation of inflammatory cytokines system and oxidative stress by modulation of corticosterone response, restoration of antioxidant defense system in cerebral cortex and hippocampus.
J Psychopharmacol. 2018 Feb;32(2):223-235. doi: 10.1177/0269881117742666. Epub 2017 Dec 7.