Introduction: Peanut stems and leaves (PSL) have traditionally been used as both a special food and a herbal medicine in Asia. The sedative-hypnotic and anxiolytic effects of PSL have been recorded in classical traditional Chinese literature, and more recently by many other researchers. In a previous study, four sleep-related ingredients (linalool, 5-hydroxy-4',7-dimethoxyflavanone, 2'-O-methylisoliquiritigenin and ferulic acid), among which 5-hydroxy-4',7-dimethoxyflavanone and 2'-O-methylisoliquiritigenin were newly found in Arachis species, were screened by ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography coupled with quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC/QTOF-MS). In the current study, quantitative examination of the above four ingredients was conducted. Serious fundamental functional studies were done in mice, including locomotor activity, direct sleep tests, pentobarbital-induced sleeping time tests, subthreshold dose of pentobarbital tests and barbital sodium sleep incubation period tests, to determine the material base for the sedative-hypnotic and anxiolytic effects of aqueous extracts of PSL. Furthermore, neurotransmitter levels in three brain regions (cerebrum, cerebellum and brain stem) were determined using UHPLC coupled with triple-quadrupole mass spectrometry (UHPLC/QQQ-MS) in order to elucidate the exact mechanism of action.
Results: Aqueous extract of PSL at a dose of 500 mg kg-1 (based on previous experience), along with different concentrations of the above four functional ingredients (189.86 µg kg-1 linalool, 114.75 mg kg-1 5-hydroxy-4',7-dimethoxyflavanone, 32.4mg kg-1 2'-O-methylisoliquiritigenin and 44.44 mg kg-1 ferulic acid), had a sedative-hypnotic effect by affecting neurotransmitter levels in mice.
Conclusion: The data demonstrate that these four ingredients are the key functional factors for the sedative-hypnotic and anxiolytic effects of PSL aqueous extracts and that these effects occur via changes in neurotransmitter levels and pathways. © 2018 Society of Chemical Industry.
Keywords: four key functional factors; mechanism of action; neurotransmitter level; peanut stems and leaves; sedative effect.
© 2018 Society of Chemical Industry.