Xiao-Chai-Hu-Tang (XCHT) has been proven to be effective for the clinical treatment of depression. However, the mechanisms of definite antidepressant-like effects and detailed metabolic biomarkers were still unclear in this prior study. Here, we have investigated the metabolic profiles and potential biomarkers in a chronic unpredictable mild stress model after treatment with XCHT. Metabonomics based on ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry was used to profile the metabolic fingerprints of serum obtained from a rat model with chronic unpredictable mild stress with and without XCHT treatment. The model rats showed a significant decrease in sucrose preference and food consumption, and these depression-like symptoms were significantly improved by XCHT. Through principal component analysis (PCA), nine potential biomarkers of tryptophan, uric acid, phenylalanine, cholic acid and lysophosphatidylcholine (C18:0 LPC, C16:0 LPC, C16:1 LPC, C18:1 LPC, C20:4 LPC) were characterized as potential biomarkers involved the pathogenesis of depression. The therapeutic effect of XCHT on depression may involve in amino acid metabolism, lipid metabolism, oxidative stress and inflammation response. The present investigation highlights that metabonomics is a valuable tool for studying the essence of depression as well as evaluating the efficacy of the corresponding drug treatment.
Keywords: Antidepressant; CUMS; Metabolomics; Multivariate analysis; Xiao-Chai-Hu-Tang.
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