Vetiver essential oil (VEO) has been used in aromatherapy for relaxation. This study aimed to investigate the effects of VEO on an anxiety-related behavioural model (the elevated plus-maze, EPM) and immediate-early gene c-fos in amygdala, known to be involved in anxiety. Male Wistar rats were administered diazepam (1 mg/kg i.p.) for 30 min or inhalated with VEO (1%, 2.5% or 5% w/w) for 7 min prior to exposure to the EPM. Then, the effects of 2.5% VEO, the anxiolytic dose, on c-fos expression in amygdala were investigated. The rats given either 2.5% VEO or diazepam exhibited an anxiolytic-like profile in the EPM. VEO and diazepam significantly increased c-fos expression in the lateral division of the central amygdaloid nucleus (CeL). Therefore, the anxiolytic properties of VEO might be associated with altering neuronal activation in CeL. However, future studies are needed to investigate the precise mechanism of action of VEO.
Keywords: amygdala; anxiety; diazepam; elevated plus-maze; vetiver essential oils.