Anxiolytic natural and synthetic flavonoid ligands of the central benzodiazepine receptor have no effect on memory tasks in rats

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1997 Dec;58(4):887-91. doi: 10.1016/s0091-3057(97)00054-3.


The naturally occurring flavonoids, chrysin (5,7-dihydroxyflavone) and apigenin (5,7,4'-trihydroxyflavone), and the synthetic compound, 6,3'-dinitroflavone have been recently reported to selectively bind with high affinity to the central benzodiazepine receptor, and to exert powerful anxiolytic and other benzodiazepine-like effects in rats. Their chemical analog, quercetin, shares none of these effects. In the present article we find that, in contrast to diazepam, chrysin, apigenin, and 6,3'-dinitroflavone have no amnestic effect on acquisition or retention of three different learning tasks (inhibitory avoidance, shuttle avoidance, and habituation to an open field), even when given at doses higher than those previously reported to be anxiolytic. Apigenin had a slight enhancing effect on training session performance and, when given posttraining, on test session retention, of crossing responses in the open field and hindered retention of inhibitory avoidance, and showed no anxiolytic action in an elevated plus maze. Unlike diazepam, none of these drugs had any analgesic effect in the tail-flick test. The data suggest that chrysin, apigenin, and 6,3'-dinitroflavoine, three flavonoids derivatives possessing anxioselective effects acting on central benzodiazepine receptors, may deserve clinical trials as anxiolytic agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Avoidance Learning / drug effects
  • Chamomile
  • Diazepam / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Ligands
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Quercetin / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Receptors, GABA-A / drug effects*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Flavonoids
  • Ligands
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • 3',6-dinitroflavone
  • chrysin
  • Quercetin
  • Diazepam