Withania somnifera as a potential anxiolytic and immunomodulatory agent in acute sleep deprived female Wistar rats

Mol Cell Biochem. 2017 Mar;427(1-2):91-101. doi: 10.1007/s11010-016-2900-1. Epub 2016 Dec 21.


Sleep is a profound regulator of cellular immunity, and the curtailment of sleep in present day lifestyle leads to disruption of neuro-immune-endocrine interactions. No therapeutic remedy is yet known for the amelioration of detrimental effects caused by sleep deprivation (SD). The current study was aimed to elucidate the effects of acute SD on immune function and its modulation by water extract from leaves of Withania somnifera (ASH-WEX). Three groups of animals, i.e. Vehicle-Undisturbed sleep (VUD), Vehicle-Sleep deprived (VSD) and ASH-WEX fed sleep deprived (WSD) rats were tested for their anxiety-like behaviour and further used for the study of inflammatory and apoptotic markers expression in piriform cortex and hippocampus regions of the brain. VSD animals showed high level of anxiety in elevated plus maze test, which was ameliorated in WSD group. The stress induced expression of inflammatory and immune response markers GFAP, TNFα, IL-6, OX-18 and OX-42 in VSD animals was found to be modulated by ASH-WEX. Further, the stress induced apoptosis was suppressed in WSD group as indicated by expression of NF-κB, AP-1, Bcl-xL and Cytochrome c. This study provides scientific validation to the anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic properties of ASH-WEX, which may serve as an effective dietary supplement for management of SD induced stress and associated functional impairments.

Keywords: Anxiety-like behavior; Apoptosis; Inflammatory cytokines; Neuroinflammation; Sleep deprivation; Withania somnifera.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Immunologic Factors / chemistry
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sleep Deprivation / drug therapy*
  • Sleep Deprivation / metabolism
  • Sleep Deprivation / pathology
  • Withania / chemistry*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Plant Extracts