The potential of plant lectins (carbohydrate-binding proteins) for the treatment of neurological disorders such as anxiety and depression has started to be reported in the last few years. Schinus terebinthifolia leaves contain a lectin called SteLL, which has displayed antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, antitumor, and analgesic activities. However, the effects of SteLL on the Central Nervous System (CNS) have not yet been determined. In this study, we investigated the in vivo anxiolytic effect of SteLL in mice using the open field (OF) and elevated plus maze (EPM) tests. In the OF, SteLL (1, 2, and 4 mg/kg, i.p.) did not interfere with the number of crossings but significantly reduced the number of rearings. In the EPM, SteLL 4 mg/kg and the combination SteLL (1 mg/kg) plus diazepam (1 mg/kg) significantly increased the time spent in the open arms while reducing the time spent in the closed arms. The anxiolytic effect of SteLL did not seem to be dependent on the carbohydrate-binding domain of the lectin. Nevertheless, the SteLL effect in the EPM was reversed by the pretreatment with the pharmacological antagonists of the α2-adrenoceptor, 5-HT2A/2C serotonin receptor, and the D1 dopamine receptor. Overall, our results suggest that the anxiolytic effect of SteLL is dependent on the monoaminergic signaling cascade.
Keywords: anxiety; elevated plus maze; lectin; mice models; open field.