Glycyrrhizic acid ameliorates the kynurenine pathway in association with its antidepressant effect

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Abstract

Our previous study implied the role of central high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced depressive-like behaviors that could partially abrogate by glycyrrhizic acid (GZA). Here, we considered the potential mechanism underlying GZA ameliorating chronic stress-induced depression both in vivo and in vitro. Depression model was established with the 4-week chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) mice. Sucrose preference test, tail suspension test and open field test were performed to reflect depressive-like behaviors. Enzyme activity of indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) was recorded with the ratio of kynurenine (KYN) / tryptophan (Trp). Transcription of gene was evaluated by RT-PCR. Along with depressive-like behaviors, IDO, the rate-limiting enzyme of the kynurenine pathway (KP), was upregulated at the level of mRNA expression, and enzyme activity was also elevated in stressed hippocampi and LPS/HMGB1-treated hippocampus slices. Treatment of mice with GZA, the inhibitor of HMGB1, prevented the activated enzymes in KP and the development of depressive-like behaviors. These experiments demonstrate that GZA may restrain HMGB1 thus improving chronic stress-induced depressive behavior through regulating KP.

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