Beneficial effects of Dendrobium nobile Lindl. Alkaloids (DNLA) on anxiety and depression induced by chronic unpredictable stress in rats

Brain Res. 2021 Nov 15:1771:147647. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2021.147647. Epub 2021 Sep 2.


Dendrobium nobile Lindl. alkaloid (DNLA) is effective against animal models of Alzheimer's disease. This study further examined its effect on anxiety and depression produced by chronic unpredictable stress (CUS). Rats were subjected to CUS for 42 days, followed by DNLA treatment (20 mg/kg/day, po) for 28 days. The behavioral tests, histopathology, neurotransmitters and RNA-Seq were examined. DNLA attenuated body weight loss and CUS-induced anxiety/depressive-like behaviors, as evidenced by the elevated-plus-maze test, open-field test and sucrose preference. DNLA alleviated neuronal damage and loss and increased Nissl bodies in the hippocampus CA2 region and cortex. DNLA decreased CUS-elevated 5-hydroxytryptamine, dopamine and monoamine oxidase and catechol-O-methyltransferase activities in the brain. DNLA attenuated HPA activation by decreasing adrenocorticotropic hormones and the expression of corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor-1, and increased the expression of glucocorticoid receptor in the brain. RNA-Seq revealed distinct gene expression patterns among groups. Gene ontology revealed the cell projection assembly, postsynapse and centrosome as top biological processes, and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) enrichment showed the cAMP, cGMP-PKG, glutamatergic synapse and circadian as major pathways for DNLA effects. Using DESeq2, CUS modulated 1700 differentially expressed genes (DEGs), which were prevented or attenuated by DNLA. CUS-induced DEGs were highly correlated with the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database for anxiety and depression and were ameliorated by DNLA. Taken together, DNLA attenuated anxiety/depression-like behavior and neuronal damage induced by CUS in rats. The mechanisms could be related to regulation of the monoamine neurotransmitters and the HPA axis, and modulation of gene expression in the hippocampus.

Keywords: Anxiety; Dendrobium nobile Lindl. alkaloids; Depression; HPA axis; Monoamine neurotransmitters; RNA-Seq.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / drug therapy*
  • Anxiety / genetics
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Brain Chemistry
  • CA2 Region, Hippocampal / pathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Dendrobium / chemistry*
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Depression / genetics
  • Depression / psychology
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / drug effects
  • Male
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Stress, Psychological / drug therapy*
  • Stress, Psychological / genetics
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology


  • Alkaloids
  • Neurotransmitter Agents