Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) oil protects against chronic stress-induced inhibitory function of natural killer cells in rats

Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2016 Mar;29(1):76-83. doi: 10.1177/0394632015619939. Epub 2015 Dec 18.


Chronic stress can suppress natural killer (NK) cell activity; this may also be related to the effect of stress on the neuroendocrine-immune network. Sea buckthorn (SBT) (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) is a thorny nitrogen fixing deciduous shrub, native to both Europe and Asia. It has been used as a medicinal plant in Tibetan and Mongolian traditional medicines. SBT has multifarious medical properties, including anti-fatigue as well as immunoregulatory effects. This study reports the effects of SBT oil with regard to the cytotoxicity and quantity of NK cells in the blood of a chronic-stress rat model, in addition to its mechanisms on the neuroendocrine-immune network. These results show that SBT oil, given by gavage to rats with chronic stress, could increase the following: body weight, NK cell quantities, and cytotoxicity, as well as the expression of perforin and granzyme B. The results also show that SBT oil in rats with chronic stress could suppress cortisol, ACTH, IL-1β and TNF-α levels, in addition to increasing 5-HT and IFN-γ serum levels. This leads to suggest that SBT oil, in rats with chronic stress, can increase NK cell cytotoxicity by upregulating the expression of perforin and granzyme B, thus causing associated effects of SBT oil on the neuroendocrine-immune network.

Keywords: chronic stress; natural killer cell; neuroendocrine–immune network; sea buckthorn oil.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Animals
  • Hippophae*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Serotonin / blood
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology*


  • Plant Oils
  • Serotonin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone