Antidepressant-like effect of the extract of Rosmarinus officinalis in mice: involvement of the monoaminergic system

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Jun 15;33(4):642-50. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2009.03.004. Epub 2009 Mar 13.


Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis L. (Labiatae) has several therapeutic applications in folk medicine in curing or managing a wide range of diseases, including depression. In this study, the effect of the hydroalcoholic extract of the stems and leaves of this plant was investigated in two behavioral models, the forced swimming test (FST) and tail suspension test (TST) in mice. The extract of R. officinalis produced an antidepressant-like effect, since the acute treatment of mice with the extract by p.o. route significantly reduced the immobility time in the FST (100 mg/kg) and TST (10-100 mg/kg), as compared to a control group, without accompanying changes in ambulation in the open-field test. Moreover, the repeated administration (14 days) of the hydroalcoholic extract of R. officinalis by p.o. route also produced an antidepressant-like effect in the TST (100-300 mg/kg). The pretreatment of mice with p-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA, 100 mg/kg, i.p., an inhibitor of serotonin synthesis, for 4 consecutive days), NAN-190 (0.5 mg/kg, i.p., a 5-HT(1A) receptor antagonist), ketanserin (5 mg/kg, i.p., a 5-HT(2A) receptor antagonist), 1-(m-chlorophenyl) biguanide (mCPBG, 10 mg/kg, i.p., a 5-HT(3) receptor agonist), prazosin (1 mg/kg, i.p., an alpha(1-)adrenoceptor antagonist), SCH23390 (0.05 mg/kg, s.c., a dopamine D(1) receptor antagonist) or sulpiride (50 mg/kg, i.p., a dopamine D(2) receptor antagonist), but not yohimbine (1 mg/kg, i.p., an alpha(2-)adrenoceptor antagonist) was able to reverse the anti-immobility effect of the extract (10 mg/kg, p.o.) in the TST. The combination of MDL72222, (0.1 mg/kg, i.p., a 5-HT(3) receptor antagonist) with a sub-effective dose of the extract of R. officinalis (1 mg/kg, p.o.) produced an anti-immobility effect in the TST. The results suggest that the antidepressant action of the extract of R. officinalis is mediated by an interaction with the monoaminergic system and that this plant should be further investigated as an alternative therapeutic approach for the treatment of depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Biogenic Monoamines / metabolism*
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Exploratory Behavior / drug effects
  • Hindlimb Suspension / methods
  • Immobility Response, Tonic / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Prazosin / pharmacology
  • Rosmarinus / chemistry*
  • Serotonin Agents / pharmacology
  • Swimming
  • Time Factors


  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Benzazepines
  • Biogenic Monoamines
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Plant Extracts
  • SCH 23390
  • Serotonin Agents
  • Prazosin