Inhalation of Roman chamomile essential oil attenuates depressive-like behaviors in Wistar Kyoto rats

Sci China Life Sci. 2017 Jun;60(6):647-655. doi: 10.1007/s11427-016-9034-8. Epub 2017 May 16.


The idea of aromatherapy, using essential oils, has been considered as an alternative antidepressant treatment. In the present study, we investigated the effect of Roman chamomile essential oil inhalation for two weeks on depressive-like behaviors in Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats. We found that inhalation of either Roman chamomile or one of its main components α-pinene, attenuated depressive-like behavior in WKY rats in the forced swim test. Using isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation analysis (iTRAQ), we found that inhalation of α-pinene increased expression of proteins that are involved in oxidative phosphorylation, such as cytochrome c oxidase subunit 6C-2, cytochrome c oxidase subunit 7A2, ATPase inhibitor in the hippocampus, and cytochrome c oxidase subunit 6C-2, ATP synthase subunit e, Acyl carrier protein, and Cytochrome b-c1 complex subunit 6 in the PFC (prefrontal cortex). In addition, using the quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction technique, we confirmed an increase of parvalbumin mRNA expression in the hippocampus, which was shown to be upregulated by 2.8-fold in iTRAQ analysis, in α-pinene treated WKY rats. These findings collectively suggest the involvement of mitochondrial functions and parvalbumin-related signaling in the antidepressant effect of α-pinene inhalation.

Keywords: aromatherapy; hippocampus; iTRAQ analysis; major depressive disorder; parvalbumin; α-pinene.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Chamomile*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / enzymology
  • Oils, Volatile / administration & dosage
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred WKY
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Electron Transport Complex IV
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases