Antidepressant-like mechanism of honokiol in a rodent model of corticosterone-induced depression.
J Integr Neurosci. 2020 Sep 30 ;19(3):459-467. PMID: 33070525
Depression is closely linked to hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis hyperactivity. Honokiol, a biphenolic lignan compound obtained from the traditional Chinese medicine, can reduce the activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and improve depression-like behavior caused by hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis hyperactivity. The current study investigated the specific mechanism of action of this effect. A depression model was established by repeated injections of corticosterone to study the antidepressant-like effect of honokiol and its potential mechanism. Honokiol prevented the elevated activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and the depression-like behavior induced by corticosterone. Treatment with honokiol resulted in greater glucocorticoid receptor mRNA expression, greater glucocorticoid receptor-positive expression, and a greater ratio of glucocorticoid receptor to the mineralocorticoid receptor in the hippocampus. Moreover, honokiol treatment led to lower levels of interleukin-1β in serum and the positive expression of the interleukin-1β receptor in the hippocampus. These results demonstrate that the antidepressant-like mechanism of honokiol, which has effects on inflammatory factors, may act through restoring the typical activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis by regulating the glucocorticoid receptor-mediated negative feedback mechanism and the balance between glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors.