Evaluation of the anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of asiatic acid, a compound from Gotu kola or Centella asiatica, in the male Sprague Dawley rat

AANA J. 2015 Apr;83(2):91-8.


Herbal medication use continues to rise and interactions with existing medications propose risks and may have significant effects and consequences on the administration of anesthesia. The purpose of this study was to investigate the anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of asiatic acid and its potential modulation of the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABAA) receptor. Fifty-five male Sprague Dawley rats were divided into 5 groups: vehicle (DMSO), asiatic acid (AA), midazolam, or a combination of flumazenil + AA or midazolam + AA, and injected intraperitoneally 30 minutes prior to testing. The rats were tested on the Elevated Plus Maze (EPM) and the Forced Swim Test (FST). Data were analyzed using a two-tailed multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). Significance was found regarding the ratio of open arm time, maximum speed, and time spent mobile in the AA group and the midazolam + AA group (P < .05). Flumazenil decreased the anxiolytic effects, suggesting that AA modulates the benzodiazepine site on the GABAA receptor. Further studies are recommended to determine the efficacy of prolonged treatment for anxiety and depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Centella / chemistry
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Flumazenil / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Midazolam / pharmacology
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Preparations / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, GABA-A / drug effects*
  • Triterpenes / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Centella asiatica extract
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Preparations
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Triterpenes
  • Flumazenil
  • asiatic acid
  • Midazolam