Antidepressant-like effect of onion (Allium cepa L.) powder in a rat behavioral model of depression

Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2008 Jan;72(1):94-100. doi: 10.1271/bbb.70454. Epub 2008 Jan 7.


The present study evaluated the antidepressant-like effect of the quercetin-rich vegetable, onion, by using the rat behavioral model of depression, the forced swimming test (FST). Daily administration of onion powder at a dosage of 50 mg/kg of body weight/day for 14 days significantly reduced the immobility time in FST without changing the motor dysfunction, indicating that the daily consumption of onion exerted antidepressant-like activity. The plasma corticosterone level was elevated after an FST trial, and pretreatment with onion powder did not modulate this elevation. Although the FST trial tended to increase the dopaminergic activity in the rat hypothalamus, the administration of onion powder (50 mg/kg) suppressed the increase in the turnover of this neurotransmitter. However, the same prevention was also observed with a higher dosage of onion, in which no significant antidepressant effect was apparent. The results of the present study suggest that onion exerted antidepressant-like activity in a behavioral model that acted independently of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Corticosterone / blood*
  • Depression / prevention & control*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus / drug effects
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Male
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Onions*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Rats


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Dopamine
  • Corticosterone