Interleukin-6 involvement in antidepressant action of Hypericum perforatum

Pharmacopsychiatry. 2001 Jul:34 Suppl 1:S8-10. doi: 10.1055/s-2001-15507.


Hypericum, a plant widely used as antidepressant has been shown to interact with the immune system. We studied the effects of the administration of the Hypericum perforatum extract Ph-50, a Hypericum extract, standardized to flavonoids (50%) and containing 0.3% of hypericin and 4.5% of hyperforin in a forced swimming test and tryptophan, serotonin (5-HT) and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) diencephalic content using a high performance liquid chromatography method in male interleukin-6 (IL-6) knock-out (IL-6(-/-)) and wild type (IL-6(+/+)) mice. Hypericum extract (Ph-50; 500 mg/kg) oral acute administration reduced the immobility time of wild type, but not of knockout mice. Tryptophan content was not modified by Hypericum in all the animal groups. Serotonin and 5-HIAA diencephalic content was increased by Hypericum in both wild type and knockout mice. However, the increase observed in the wild type was greater than in knockout mice. These data indicate that IL-6 could be necessary to the antidepressant action of Hypericum, and that this cytokine (probably) mediates the effects of Hypericum through activation of the serotonin system.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Anthracenes
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Diencephalon / chemistry
  • Diencephalon / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / pharmacology
  • Hypericum*
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics*
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Perylene / analogs & derivatives*
  • Perylene / pharmacology
  • Phloroglucinol / analogs & derivatives
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rutin / pharmacology
  • Serotonin / pharmacology
  • Swimming
  • Terpenes / pharmacology
  • Tryptophan / analysis


  • Anthracenes
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds
  • Interleukin-6
  • Plant Extracts
  • Terpenes
  • Serotonin
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid
  • Rutin
  • Perylene
  • hypericin
  • Tryptophan
  • Phloroglucinol
  • hyperforin