Anti-Stress and Anti-Depressive Effects of Spinach Extracts on a Chronic Stress-Induced Depression Mouse Model through Lowering Blood Corticosterone and Increasing Brain Glutamate and Glutamine Levels

J Clin Med. 2018 Oct 31;7(11):406. doi: 10.3390/jcm7110406.


Spinach is one of the most widely consumed vegetables, and is known as for both physical and mental health maintenance. However, there is little information about how spinach protects one from stress. In the present study, we created three extracts from Spinach oleracea L., (frozen powder (FP), water extract (WE), and ethanol extract (EE)), and examined their anti-stress and anti-depressive effects on mouse using a chronic immobilization stress (CIS) regimen. FP, WE, and EE showed different free amino acid constituents. Calorie-balanced diets derived from each extract were tested for their ability to reduce blood corticosterone (CORT) levels in naïve mice. Diets supplemented with FP or EE induced lower blood CORT levels than a normal diet, but the WE diet did not. Mobility duration and sucrose preference were increased by FP and EE supplementation in the CIS-induced depression animal models. Moreover, FP and EE increased glutamate and glutamine levels in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) compared with CIS-induced depressed group. These results suggest that spinach has anti-stress and anti-depressive properties by lowering CORT and increasing glutamate and glutamine levels in the mPFC.

Keywords: chronic stress; corticosterone; depressive behavior; spinach.