Antidepressant activity of Asparagus racemosus in rodent models

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2009 Jan;91(3):283-90. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2008.07.010. Epub 2008 Jul 20.


Asparagus racemosus Linn. (AR) is an Ayurvedic rasayana used as an adaptogen. Adaptogenic drugs are those which are useful as anti-stress agents by promoting non-specific resistance of the body. Although, the adaptogenic effect of AR is well documented, its use in psychological disorders like depression is not scientifically evaluated. Hence, the present investigation evaluates the antidepressant effect of methanolic extract of roots of AR (MAR) standardized to saponins (62.2% w/w). Rats were given MAR in the doses of 100, 200 and 400 mg/kg daily for 7 days and then subjected to forced swim test (FST) and learned helplessness test (LH). The results show that MAR decreases immobility in FST and increases avoidance response in LH indicating antidepressant activity. In behavioral experiments, MAR increased the number of head twitches produced by 5-HTP and increased clonidine-induced aggressive behavior indicating facilitatory effect on both serotonergic and adrenergic systems respectively. However, MAR had insignificant effect on l-DOPA-induced aggressive behavior indicating absence of activity on dopaminergic system. MAR also reversed changes to the endogenous antioxidant system induced by FST. Thus, MAR has significant antidepressant activity and this effect is probably mediated through the serotonergic and the noradrenergic systems and augmentation of antioxidant defenses.

MeSH terms

  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan / pharmacology
  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists / pharmacology
  • Aggression
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Asparagus Plant / chemistry*
  • Clonidine / pharmacology
  • Dopamine Agents / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Head Movements / drug effects
  • Helplessness, Learned
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hyperkinesis / chemically induced
  • Hyperkinesis / pathology
  • Levodopa / pharmacology
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic
  • Mice
  • Neostriatum / drug effects
  • Neostriatum / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Rats
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Swimming / psychology


  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Dopamine Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Levodopa
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Clonidine