Bioactivity-guided isolation of beta-sitosterol and some fatty acids as active compounds in the anxiolytic and sedative effects of Tilia americana var. mexicana

Planta Med. 2007 Sep;73(11):1148-55. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-981593. Epub 2007 Sep 7.


Tilia species have been used as anxiolytics for many years. In a previous study anxiolytic-like effects of a hexane extract of Tilia americana var. mexicana inflorescences were observed in experimental models in mice. To get additional insights into the neuroactive actions of this particular Tilia species, in this study we report a bioactivity guided-fractionation of the extract and separation by column chromatographic methods to isolate three fatty acids and a triterpene identified as beta-sitosterol as major constituents. Our results revealed that the crude extract at 10 and 30 mg/kg I. P. and some pooled fractions at the same dosages potentiated sodium pentobarbital-induced sleeping time and caused a significant increase in the time spent at the open-arm sides in the plus-maze test. A reduction in the exploratory behavioral pattern manifested as ambulatory activity, as well as head dipping and rearing tests was also observed. Further fractionation and purification yielded four major fractions containing fatty acids and beta-sitosterol as the active compounds. A dose-response curve of beta-sitosterol in the range 1 to 30 mg/kg doses indicated that this compound produced an anxiolytic-like action from 1 to 10 mg/kg and a sedative response when the dose was increased to 30 mg/kg, these effects resemble those produced by diazepam (0.1 mg/kg). Our results suggest that hexane extract of Tilia americana var. mexicana produces depressant actions on the central nervous system, at least in part, because of the presence of beta-sitosterol and some fatty acids that remain to be identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids / therapeutic use
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Sitosterols / administration & dosage
  • Sitosterols / pharmacology*
  • Sitosterols / therapeutic use
  • Sleep / drug effects*
  • Tilia*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Fatty Acids
  • Plant Extracts
  • Sitosterols
  • gamma-sitosterol