Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 184367, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/184367
Research Article

Yueju Pill Rapidly Induces Antidepressant-Like Effects and Acutely Enhances BDNF Expression in Mouse Brain

1Center for Translational Systems Biology and Neuroscience, School of Basic Biomedical Science, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing 210023, China
2Laboratory of Integrative Biomedicine of Brain Diseases, School of Basic Biomedical Science, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing 210023, China
3TCM Jingui Research Section, School of Basic Biomedical Science, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing 210023, China
4School of Life Science, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
5Medical School, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China

Received 19 February 2013; Accepted 30 March 2013

Academic Editor: David Mischoulon

Copyright © 2013 Wenda Xue 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.

Abstract

The traditional antidepressants have a major disadvantage in delayed onset of efficacy, and the emerging fast-acting antidepressant ketamine has adverse behavioral and neurotoxic effects. Yueju pill, an herb medicine formulated eight hundred years ago by Doctor Zhu Danxi, has been popularly prescribed in China for alleviation of depression-like symptoms. Although several clinical outcome studies reported the relative short onset of antidepressant effects of Yueju, this has not been scientifically investigated. We, therefore, examined the rapid antidepressant effect of Yueju in mice and tested the underlying molecular mechanisms. We found that acute administration of ethanol extract of Yueju rapidly attenuated depressive-like symptoms in learned helpless paradigm, and the antidepressant-like effects were sustained for at least 24 hours in tail suspension test in ICR mice. Additionally, Yueju, like ketamine, rapidly increased the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus, whereas the BDNF mRNA expression remained unaltered. Yueju rapidly reduced the phosphorylation of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2), leading to desuppression of BDNF synthesis. Unlike ketamine, both the BDNF expression and eEF2 phosphorylation were revered at 24 hours after Yueju administration. This study is the first to demonstrate the rapid antidepressant effects of an herb medicine, offering an opportunity to improve therapy of depression.