The antidepressant-like effects of sinomenine in mice: a behavioral and neurobiological characterization
Sinomenine is a bioactive alkaloid extracted from Sinomenium acutum. Here, we investigated the antidepressant effects of sinomenine in mice. The antidepressant actions of sinomenine were first examined in the forced-swim test and the tail-suspension test, and then assessed in the chronic social defeat stress (CSDS) model of depression. Changes in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signaling pathway after CSDS and sinomenine treatment were also investigated. A tryptophan hydroxylase inhibitor and a BDNF signaling inhibitor were also used to determine the pharmacological mechanisms of sinomenine. It was found that sinomenine induced antidepressant-like effects in the forced-swim test and tail-suspension test without affecting the locomotor activity of mice. Sinomenine also prevented the CSDS-induced depressive-like symptoms. Moreover, sinomenine fully restored the CSDS-induced decrease in the hippocampal BDNF signaling pathway, whereas a BDNF signaling inhibitor, but not a tryptophan hydroxylase inhibitor, blocked the antidepressant effects of sinomenine. In conclusion, sinomenine exerts antidepressant effects in mice by promoting the hippocampal BDNF signaling pathway.