Poria cocos water extract ameliorates the behavioral deficits induced by unpredictable chronic mild stress in rats by down-regulating inflammation

J Ethnopharmacol. 2020 Aug 10:258:112566. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2020.112566. Epub 2020 Jan 9.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Poria cocos is a medicinal mushroom of the Polyporaceae family with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, which has been used for its sedative, diuretic and tonic effects in traditional medicine for several hundred years.

Aim of study: Considering that depression is an inflammatory related mental disease, this study investigated the antidepressant-like effects of water extract of P. cocos in a rodent animal model.

Materials and methods: Rats that were exposed to a forced swimming test (FST) for 28 consecutive days, and unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS) for five weeks underwent treatment with P. cocos water extract (PCW) (doses: 100, 300 and 900 mg/kg body weight [bw]; administered by gavage). Dopamine (DA), serotonin (5-HT) and their metabolites in the frontal cortex of rats were measured.

Results: Our results firstly showed that sucrose preference during the UCMS paradigm was increased and immobility time in the FST was reduced with administration of PCW. In addition, PCW significantly attenuated UCMS-induced turnover rate of DA and 5-HT in the frontal cortex. Moreover, PCW inhibited UCMS-induced activated inflammatory response, reflected by reduced expression in the frontal cortex of p38, NF-κB and TNF-α.

Conclusions: Our results strongly suggest that PCW exhibits a potent antidepressant-like effect via regulation of monoaminergic neurotransmission and inactivation of inflammation, and that P. cocos may be considered as a traditional herbal potential medicine for the treatment of depression.

Keywords: Antidepressant-like effects; Forced swimming test; Monoamine; Poria cocos; Unpredictable chronic mild stress.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antidepressive Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological / drug therapy*
  • Stress, Psychological / pathology
  • Swimming
  • Water / chemistry
  • Wolfiporia / chemistry*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Water
  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine