Passionflower Extract Induces High-amplitude Rhythms without Phase Shifts in the Expression of Several Circadian Clock Genes in Vitro and in Vivo

Int J Biomed Sci. 2017 Jun;13(2):84-92.


Circadian rhythms play key roles in the regulation of physiological and behavioral systems including wake-sleep cycles. We evaluated the effects of passionflower (aerial parts of Passiflora incarnata Linnaeus) extract (PFE) on circadian rhythms using NIH3T3 cells and mice. PFE (100 μg/mL) induced high-amplitude rhythms in the expression of period circadian protein (Per) 2, cryptochrome (Cry) 1, superoxide dismutase (SOD) 1, and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) in vitro from 12 h after a treatment with serum-rich medium. Isovitexin 2"-O-glucoside, isoschaftoside, and homoorientin, which were purified from PFE, also significantly enhanced Per2 mRNA expression at 20 h. An oral treatment with PFE (100 mg/kg/day) at zeitgeber time (ZT) 0 h for 15 days improved sleep latencies and sleeping times in the pentobarbital-induced sleep test in mice, similar to muscimol (0.2 mg/kg, i.p.). PFE induced high-amplitude rhythms without obvious phase shifts in serum corticosterone levels and the expression of Per1, Per2, and Cry1 in the liver as well as NIH3T3 cells. However, in the cerebrum, PFE enhanced the circadian expression of brain-muscle ARNT-like protein (Bmal) 1, circadian locomotor output cycles kaput (Clock), and Per1. Regarding this difference, we suggest the involvement of several neurotransmitters that influence the circadian rhythm. Indeed, PFE significantly increased dopamine levels at ZT 18 h, and then affected the mRNA expression of the synthetic and metabolic enzymes such as monoamine oxidase (MAO), catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD). The results obtained show that PFE positively modulates circadian rhythms by inducing high-amplitude rhythms in the expression of several circadian clock genes.

Keywords: Circadian rhythm; Clock genes; Herbal medicine; Homoorientin; Neurotransmitters; Passiflora incarnata; Sleep disorders; in vitro; in vivo.