Anxiolytic-like effects of phytol: possible involvement of GABAergic transmission

Brain Res. 2014 Feb 14:1547:34-42. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2013.12.003. Epub 2013 Dec 10.


Phytol, a branched chain unsaturated alcohol, is particularly interesting because it is an isolated compound from essential oils of different medicinal plants. The aim of this study was to evaluate the anxiolytic-like effects of phytol in animal models to clarify their possible action mechanism. After acute intraperitoneal treatment with phytol at doses of 25, 50 and 75 mg/kg behavioral models of open-field, elevated-plus-maze, rota-rod, light-dark, marble-burying and pentobarbital sleeping time tests were utilized. In open field test, phytol (25, 50 and 75 mg/kg) [p<0.01] increased the number of crossings and rearings. However, the number of groomings [p<0.01] was reduced. Likewise, the number of entries and the time spent in light space were increased [p<0.01] while the number of marble-burying was decreased [p<0.001], in elevated-plus-maze, light-dark and marble-burying tests, respectively. In motor activity test, phytol (75 mg/kg) impaired the rota-rod performance of mice [p<0.01]. In pentobarbital sleeping time test, phytol 75 mg/kg decreased for latency of sleeping and phytol (25, 50 and 75 mg/kg) increased the sleep time when compared to negative control [p<0.05]. All these effects were reversed by pre-treatment with flumazenil (2.5mg/kg, i.p.), similarly to those observed with diazepam (2mg/kg, i.p.; positive control) suggesting that the phytol presents mechanism of action by interaction with the GABAergic system. These findings suggest that acute administration of phytol exerts an anxiolytic-like effect on mice. Furthermore, suppose that phytol interacts with GABAA receptor, probably at the receptor subtypes that mediate benzodiazepines effects, to produce sedative and anxiolytic activities.

Keywords: Anxiolytic-like; Elevated-plus-maze; Light–dark; Marble-burying; Pentobarbital sleeping time; Phytol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Flumazenil / pharmacology
  • GABA Modulators / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Phytol / administration & dosage
  • Phytol / pharmacology*
  • Sleep / drug effects*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • GABA Modulators
  • Phytol
  • Flumazenil