Investigation of the Anxiolytic and Antidepressant Effects of Curcumin, a Compound From Turmeric (Curcuma longa), in the Adult Male Sprague-Dawley Rat

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As the use of herbal medications continues to increase in America, the potential interaction between herbal and prescription medications necessitates the discovery of their mechanisms of action. The purpose of this study was to investigate the anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of curcumin, a compound from turmeric (Curcuma longa), and its effects on the benzodiazepine site of the γ-aminobutyric acid receptor A (GABAA) receptor. Utilizing a prospective, between-subjects group design, 55 male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to 1 of the 5 intraperitoneally injected treatment groups: vehicle, curcumin, curcumin + flumazenil, midazolam, and midazolam + curcumin. Behavioral testing was performed using the elevated plus maze, open field test, and forced swim test. A 2-tailed multivariate analysis of variance and least significant difference post hoc tests were used for data analysis. In our models, curcumin did not demonstrate anxiolytic effects or changes in behavioral despair. An interaction of curcumin at the benzodiazepine site of the GABAA receptor was also not observed. Additional studies are recommended that examine the anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of curcumin through alternate dosing regimens, modulation of other subunits on the GABAA receptor, and interactions with other central nervous system neurotransmitter systems.

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