EGb761 is a well-defined mixture of active compounds extracted from Ginkgo biloba leaves. This extract is used clinically due to its neuroprotective effects, exerted probably via its potent antioxidant or free radical scavenger action. Previous studies suggest that oxidative stress, via free radical production, may play an important role in depression and animal models for depression-like behavior. Preclinical studies have suggested that antioxidants may have antidepressants properties. The aim of this study was to investigate the antidepressant-like of EGb761 due to its antioxidant role against oxidative stress induced in the forced swimming test, the most widely used preclinical model for assessing antidepressant-like behavior. Male BALB/c mice were pretreated with EGb761 (10mg/kg, ip) daily for 17 days followed by the forced swimming test and spontaneous locomotor activity. Animals were sacrificed to evaluate lipid peroxidation, different antioxidant enzyme activities, serotonin and dopamine content in midbrain, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. EGb761 significantly decreased the immobility time (39%) in the forced swimming test. This antidepressant-like effect of EGb761 was associated with a reduction in lipid peroxidation and superoxide radical production (indicated by a downregulation of Mn-superoxide dismutase activity), both of which are indicators of oxidative stress. The protective effect of EGb761 is not related to excitatory or inhibitory effects in locomotor activity, and was also associated with the modulation of serotonergic and dopaminergic neurotransmission. It is suggested that EGb761 produces an antidepressant-like effect, and that an antioxidant effect against oxidative stress may be partly responsible for its observed neuroprotective effects.
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