Effect of tribulus terrestris saponins on behavior and neuroendocrine in chronic mild stress depression rats

J Tradit Chin Med. 2013 Apr;33(2):228-32. doi: 10.1016/s0254-6272(13)60130-2.


Objective: To observe the effect of tribulus terrestris saponins (TTS) on behavior and neuroendocrine of chronic mild stress (CMS) depression rats.

Methods: Thirty male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly allocated to six groups: vehicle group, CMS group, CMS + fluoxetine group and CMS + TTS of low-dosage (0.375 g/kg), medium-dosage (0.75 g/kg) and high-dosage (2.25 g/kg) groups. All rats except the vehicle group singly housed and exposed an unpredicted sequence of mild stressors. The behavior of rats was detected by open-field test (OFT) and sucrose preference test (SPT). The concentration of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in serum of the rats were detected by radioimmunoassay. The concentration of cortisol (CORT) in serum was detected by enzyme immunoassay.

Results: CMS procedure not only significantly decreased the scores of crossing, rears and grooming in OFT and the sucrose preference in SPT (all P < 0.01), but also markedly increased serum CRH and CORT levels (both P < 0.05). Treatment with TTS (0.75 and 2.25 g/kg) could significantly prevent all of these abnormalities induced by CMS (P < 0.05, P < 0.01).

Conclusion: CMS can affect rat behavior and neuroendocrine and cause depression. TTS has the antagonism on CMS and produce antidepressive effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Chronic Disease / therapy
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / blood
  • Depression / blood
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurosecretory Systems / drug effects*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Saponins / administration & dosage*
  • Saponins / metabolism
  • Tribulus / chemistry*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Saponins
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone