To observe the effects of refined Xiaoyaosan (XYS) on the depressive-like behaviors in rats with chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS), and to explore the relationship between the changes of neurosteroids and mRNA expressions of their synthesis and metabolic enzymes, and the mechanism of XYS in the treatment of depression. Methods
: Eighty-four healthy male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into normal group, model group, XYS group and fluoxetine group. The latter three groups were subjected to 21 days of CUMS to prepare the stress depression model. Rats in the XYS group, and fluoxetine group were given intragastric administration with refined XYS and fluoxetine, respectively. The behavioral changes of the rats were observed after 21 days. The contents of pregnenolone (PREG), progesterone (PROG) and alloprognanolone (ALLO) in the plasma of rats were measured by ELISA. The levels of PREG, PROG and ALLO in the hippocampus and amygdala tissues were measured by LC-MS/MS. The mRNA expressions of 3α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3α-HSD), 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD), cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc) and 5α-reductase (5a-R) in the hippocampus and amygdala were detected by RT-qPCR methods. Results
: There were changes in the model rats. The contents of PREG, PROG and ALLO changed similarly, which reflected in the decrease of PROG and ALLO, and the increase of PREG. The mRNA expression of P450scc was increased, and the mRNA expressions of 3α-HSD, 3β-HSD and 5a-R were decreased. Refined XYS could improve the behaviors of rats and the biological indicators. Conclusions
: There is a neurosteroid dysfunction in the brain region of depression rat model animals, and the mechanism of refined XYS depression treatment may be related to the regulation of the control of mRNA expression of related synthesis and metabolic enzymes in the hippocampus and amygdala, further affecting the contents of neurosteroids.
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