Gentiopicroside abrogates lipopolysaccharide-induced depressive-like behavior in mice through tryptophan-degrading pathway


Targeting neuroinflammatory disturbances has been acknowledged as a potential strategy for treatment of depressive disorder in humans. Over-activation of tryptophan-degrading pathway by pro-inflammatory cytokines resulted in N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA)-mediated excitotoxicity, which is implicated in pathophysiology of depression. Gentiopicroside (Gent) has powerful anti-inflammatory property and exhibits promising antidepressant effect in an animal model of pain/depression dyad by down-regulating GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate the ability of Gent to abolish depressive-like behavior induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in mice. Acute administration of LPS (0.5 mg/kg, i.p.) increased immobility time in both forced swimming test (FST) and tail suspension test (TST) without affecting spontaneous locomotor activity, indicative of depressive-like behavior. Gent (50 mg/kg, i.p.) administered once a day for three consecutive days prevented the development of depressive-like behavior induced by LPS. The antidepressant-like effect was paralleled with restoration of LPS-induced alterations in brain inflammatory mediators (i.e. IL-1β and TNF-α). In addition, Gent prevented over-activation of indoleamine 2,3-double oxygen enzyme (IDO) and recovered GluN2B subunit expression in the PFC challenged by LPS. In conclusion, our results suggested that Gent pretreatment provided protection against LPS-induced depressive-like behavior and the effect appeared to be demonstrated, at least partially, by blocking various steps of tryptophan-degrading pathway.

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Fig. 1
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Fig. 3







Major depressive disorder


Indoleamine 2,3-double oxygen enzyme


Forced swimming test


Tail suspension test


Open field




Central nervous system


Basolateral amygdala


Prefrontal cortex


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This research was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 81403064; Doctoral research foundation of Xi’an Medical University, No. 2016DOC23 and Nature science research plan in shannxi province of China, No.2016JM8047.

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Correspondence to Ya-ting Deng or Ming-gao Zhao.

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Deng, Yt., Zhao, Mg., Xu, Tj. et al. Gentiopicroside abrogates lipopolysaccharide-induced depressive-like behavior in mice through tryptophan-degrading pathway. Metab Brain Dis 33, 1413–1420 (2018).

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  • Gentiopicroside
  • Depressive-like behavior
  • LPS
  • Tryptophan-degrading pathway