Anxiolytic and sedative-hypnotic activities of polygalasaponins from Polygala tenuifolia in mice

Pharm Biol. 2010 Jul;48(7):801-7. doi: 10.3109/13880200903280042.


In the present study, the anxiolytic and sedative-hypnotic activities of polygalasaponins extracted from Polygala tenuifolia Willdenow (Polygalaceae) were determined in mice using hole-board, elevated plus maze, open field, and sodium pentobarbital-induced hypnosis tests. Moreover, the acute toxicity of polygalasaponins was also estimated in mice. Sixty minutes after p.o. administration of polygalasaponins (40, 80, 160 mg/kg) in mice, the central crossing counts and percentage of central/total ambulation significantly increased and the number of rearings and defecations was evidently inhibited in the open field test. Polygalasaponins also increased the head-dips of mice in the hole-board test and the time spent by mice in the open arms of the X-maze, prolonged sleep duration and shortened sleep latency in the test of synergetic effect on sodium pentobarbital (45 and 25 mg/kg, respectively). Acute toxic study showed the oral median lethal dose (LD(50)) of polygalasaponins was 3.95 g/kg and 0% lethal dose 2.6 g/kg. These results suggest that polygalasaponin possesses evident anxiolytic and sedative-hypnotic activities and has a relatively safe dose range, which supports the use of Polygala tenuifolia root as an anxiolytic and sedative-hypnotic drug in folk medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / toxicity
  • Diterpenes, Kaurane / analysis
  • Diterpenes, Kaurane / pharmacology
  • Diterpenes, Kaurane / therapeutic use
  • Diterpenes, Kaurane / toxicity
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacology
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use*
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / toxicity
  • Immobility Response, Tonic / drug effects
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Polygala*
  • Saponins / pharmacology
  • Saponins / therapeutic use*
  • Saponins / toxicity


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Diterpenes, Kaurane
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Plant Extracts
  • Saponins
  • tenuifolin