Background: In this study, we investigate the effects of valerian root extracts (VE) on physical and psychological stress responses by utilizing a communication box.
Methods: Eight-week-old ICR mice received oral administration of VE (100 mg/kg/0.5 ml) or equal volume of distilled water in every day for 3 weeks prior to being subjected to physical or psychological stress for 3 days, which are induced by communication box developed for physical electric shock and psychological stress by nociceptive stimulation-evoked responses. The stress condition was assessed by forced swimming test and serum corticosterone levels. In addition, norepinephrine (NE), serotonin (5-HT), and their metabolites such as 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylethyleneglycol sulfate (MHPG-SO4) and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) were measured in the hippocampus and amygdala at 1 h after final stress condition, respectively.
Results: Immobility time and corticosterone levels were significantly increased in both the physical and psychological stress groups compared to the control group. The administration of VE significantly reduced these parameters in both the physical and psychological stress groups. In addition, compared to the control group, physical and psychological stress groups showed significantly increased levels of MHPG-SO4 and 5-HIAA in the hippocampus and amygdala, respectively. The administration of VE significantly suppressed the increase of MHPG-SO4 and 5-HIAA in the two stress groups.
Conclusion: These results suggest that VE can suppress physical and psychological stress responses by modulating the changes in 5-HT and NE turnover in the hippocampus and amygdala.