Kava decreases the stereotyped behavior induced by amphetamine in mice

J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 Jan 30;265:113293. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2020.113293. Epub 2020 Aug 22.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Kava extract (Piper methysticum) is a phytotherapic mainly used for the treatment of anxiety. Although the reported effects of Kava drinking improving psychotic symptoms of patients when it was introduced to relieve anxiety in aboriginal communities, its effects on models of psychosis-like symptoms are not investigated.

Aim of the study: To investigate the effects of Kava extract on behavioral changes induced by amphetamine (AMPH) and its possible relation with alterations in monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity.

Materials and methods: Mice received vehicle or Kava extract by gavage and, 2 h after vehicle or AMPH intraperitoneally. Twenty-five minutes after AMPH administration, behavioral (elevated plus maze, open field, stereotyped behavior, social interaction and Y maze) and biochemical tests (MAO-A and MAO-B activity in cortex, hippocampus and striatum) were sequentially evaluated.

Results: Kava extract exhibited anxiolytic effects in plus maze test, increased the locomotor activity of mice in open field test and decreased MAO-A (in cortex) and MAO-B (in hippocampus) activity of mice. Kava extract prevented the effects of AMPH on stereotyped behavior and, the association between Kava/AMPH increased the number of entries into arms in Y maze test as well as MAO-B activity in striatum. However, Kava extract did not prevent hyperlocomotion induced by AMPH in open field test. The social interaction was not modified by Kava extract and/or AMPH.

Conclusion: The results showed that Kava extract decreased the stereotyped behavior induced by AMPH at the same dose that promotes anxiolytic effects, which could be useful to minimize the psychotic symptoms in patients.

Keywords: Anxiety; Central nervous system; Monoamine oxidase; Piper methysticum; Psychosis.

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Kava / chemistry*
  • Locomotion / drug effects
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Stereotyped Behavior / drug effects*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Amphetamine