Schisandra chinensis produces the antidepressant-like effects in repeated corticosterone-induced mice via the BDNF/TrkB/CREB signaling pathway

Psychiatry Res. 2016 Sep 30;243:135-42. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.06.037. Epub 2016 Jun 23.


The present study aimed to examine the antidepressant-like effects and the possible mechanisms of Schisandra chinensis on depressive-like behavior induced by repeated corticosterone injections in mice. Here we evaluated the effect of an ethanol extract of the dried fruit of S. chinensis (EESC) on BDNF/TrkB/CREB signaling in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. Three weeks of corticosterone injections in mice resulted in depressive-like behavior, as indicated by the significant decrease in sucrose consumption and increase the immobility time in the forced swim test, but without any influence on the locomotor activity. Further, there was a significant increase in serum corticosterone level and a significant downregulation of BDNF/TrkB/CREB signaling pathway in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex in CORT-treated mice. Treatment of mice with EESC (600mg/kg) significantly ameliorated all the behavioral and biochemical changes induced by corticosterone. Moreover, pharmacological inhibition of BDNF signaling by K252a abolished entirely the antidepressant-like effect triggered by chronic EESC treatment. These results suggest that EESC produces an antidepressant-like effect in CORT-induced depression in mice, which is possibly mediated, at least in part, by rectifying the stress-based hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction paradigm and upregulation of BDNF/TrkB/CREB signaling pathway.

Keywords: Antidepressant-like effect; BDNF/TrkB/CREB signaling; Corticosterone; HPA axis; Schisandra chinensis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism
  • Corticosterone*
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein / metabolism
  • Depression / chemically induced
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Depression / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Receptor, trkB / metabolism
  • Schisandra*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Swimming


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptor, trkB
  • Corticosterone