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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 797280, 8 pages
Research Article

The Kampo Medicine Yokukansan Decreases MicroRNA-18 Expression and Recovers Glucocorticoid Receptors Protein Expression in the Hypothalamus of Stressed Mice

1Division of Molecular Brain Science, Research Institute of Traditional Asian Medicine, Kinki University, Osaka-sayama, Osaka 589-8511, Japan
2Division of Women Medicine, Research Institute of Traditional Asian Medicine, Kinki University, Osaka-sayama, Osaka 589-8511, Japan
3Osaka Prefectural Hospital Organization, Osaka 558-8558, Japan

Received 5 December 2014; Accepted 2 April 2015

Academic Editor: Yu-Ping Tang

Copyright © 2015 Shoko Shimizu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


It is well known that glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling regulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and GR expression level is associated with HPA axis activity. Recent studies revealed that microRNA- (miR-) 18 and/or 124a are candidate negative regulators of GR in the brain. The Kampo medicine Yokukansan (YKS) can affect psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety that are associated with stress responses. In this study, we evaluated the effect of YKS on miR-18 and 124a and GR levels in mice exposed to stress. We found that YKS pretreatment normalized elevated plasma corticosterone levels in stress-exposed mice. In addition, GR mRNA levels were downregulated in the brain following stress exposure. While miR-124a expression levels were not altered in the hypothalamus of stress-exposed mice, miR-18 levels decreased in the hypothalamus of YKS-pretreated mice after stress exposure. Finally, GR protein levels in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus after stress exposure recovered in YKS-pretreated mice. Collectively, these data suggest that YKS normalizes GR protein levels by regulating miR-18 expression in the hypothalamus, thus normalizing HPA axis activity following stress exposure.