Effect of Schisandra chinensis on interleukins, glucose metabolism, and pituitary-adrenal and gonadal axis in rats under strenuous swimming exercise

Chin J Integr Med. 2015 Jan;21(1):43-8. doi: 10.1007/s11655-014-1765-y. Epub 2014 Aug 20.


Objective: To investigate the effect of Chinese medicine (CM) Schisandra chinensis on interleukin (IL), glucose metabolism, and pituitary-adrenal and gonadal axis of rats after strenuous navigation and exercise.

Methods: A total of 45 Sprague-Dawley rats were randomized into the quiet control group, the stress group, and the CM group (15 in each group). The CM group received 2.5 g/kg of Schisandra chinensis twice per day for one week before modeling. Except the quiet controls, rats were trained using the Bedford mode for 10 days. On the 11th day, they performed 3 h of stressful experimental navigation and 3 h of strenuous treadmill exercise. The levels of serum testosterone (T), cortisol (CORT), luteinizing hormone (LH), IL-1, IL-2, and IL-6 were tested by radioimmunoassay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively. The adrenal cortex ultrastructure was observed using electron microscopy.

Results: Compared with the quiet control group, after navigation and strenuous exercise, blood glucose was increased, and T level was decreased in the stress group (both P<0.01). The blood glucose, CORT, IL-1 and IL-2 levels were significantly reduced in the CM group (P<0.05 or P<0.01) as compared with the stress group. Electron microscopy revealed that the rats in the CM group had a smaller decrease in adrenal intracellular lipid droplets and higher levels of apoptosis than those in the stress group.

Conclusions: Schisandra chinensis can reduce serum CORT and blood glucose levels in stressed rats. It appears to protect the cell structure of the adrenal cortex, and offset the negative effects of psychological stress and strenuous exercise related to immune dysfunction. Schisandra chinensis plays a regulatory role in immune function, and can decrease the influence of stress in rats.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex / pathology
  • Adrenal Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Gonads / drug effects
  • Gonads / metabolism*
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Interleukin-1 / blood
  • Interleukin-2 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Interleukins / blood*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / drug effects
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / metabolism*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Schisandra / chemistry*
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Blood Glucose
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukins
  • Plant Extracts
  • Testosterone
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Glucose
  • Hydrocortisone