Echinacoside exhibits antidepressant-like effects through AMPAR-Akt/ERK-mTOR pathway stimulation and BDNF expression in mice

Chin Med. 2022 Jan 5;17(1):9. doi: 10.1186/s13020-021-00549-5.


BACKGROUND: Several natural products have been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of depressive disorders. Echinacoside, a naturally occurring phenol extracted from Cistanche tubulosa, Echinacea angustifolia, and Cistanche spp, has a wide range of physiological effects, such as antioxidation, neuroprotection, anti-inflammatory, and immunoregulation, which are closely related to depression. In addition, echinacoside can activate protein kinase B (Akt), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain. A key downstream event of the Akt, ERK, and BDNF signaling pathways, namely mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling, plays a crucial role in generating an rapid antidepressant effect. Thus, echinacoside is a promising therapeutic agent for depression. However, research regarding the role of echinacoside in antidepressant effect and brain mTOR activation remains lacking.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The forced swimming test and Western blot analysis in C57BL/6 mice was used to investigate the antidepressant-like activities of echinacoside and the underlying mechanism involved inα-amino3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (AMPAR)-Akt/ERK-mTOR pathway.

RESULTS: We confirmed the suggestions by previous reports that echinacoside activates Akt/ERK signaling and further demonstrated that echinacoside could provide antidepressant-like effects in mice via the activation of AMPAR-Akt/ERK-mTOR pathway in the hippocampus.

CONCLUSIONS: To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to reveal that echinacoside is a potential treatment for depressive disorders. Moreover, the present study suggests a mechanism for the neuroprotective effect of echinacoside.

PMID:34983570 | PMC:PMC8728918 | DOI:10.1186/s13020-021-00549-5


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