Evaluation of Antidepressant Effects of Aerial Parts of Echium vulgare on Mice

Document Type: Original Article


1 Department of Pharmacodynamy & Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, Medical Toxicology Research Center, Pharmaceutical Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Pharmacodynamy & Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

3 Pharmacist


In traditional medicine, Echium spp., including E. vulgare L., are utilized as exhilarant and mood stimulant. On the other hand, depression is a state of intense sadness, melancholia or despair that has advanced to the point of being disruptive to an individual's social functioning and/or activities of daily living. Therefore, finding effective and safe treatments is a hotly contested area in the present time. In this study, the antidepressant effects of aqueous and alcoholic extracts of Echium vulgare L. aerial parts were investigated on mice.
Materials and Methods
Boiling and percolation were used for aqueous and alcoholic extractions, respectively. Toxicity and anti-depressant studies were performed in male BALB/C mice. Three doses of 0.05, 0.2 and 0.35 g/kg for aqueous extracts and five doses of 0.01, 0.04, 0.07, 0.3 and 0.5 g/kg for alcoholic extracts were selected in the forced swimming test employing 8 mice in each group. Open field activity test was used to differentiate antidepression and locomotion effects. ANOVA and Tukey-Kramer tests were used for statistical analysis.
The LD50 values of aqueous and ethanolic extracts were 1.22 g/kg and 1.21 g/kg, respectively. Aqueous and alcoholic extracts showed significant antidepressant effects starting at 0.05 g/kg and 0.07 g/kg, respectively. Open field test showed no significant changes in the activities of animals which received the ethanolic extract, but the aqueous extract decreased locomotor activities at higher doses.
The results showed that the aqueous extract at low doses and ethanolic extract at high doses have significant antidepressant effects. The effects of extracts were similar to imipramine and they may affect neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin. This herb might be considered as a useful drug in the management of depression. 


1.Zargari A. Medicinal Plants. Tehran: Tehran University Publishing Organization; 1375; 3:  540-541.

2.Ghahreman A. Systematic Botany. Tehran: Academic Publishing Center; 1373. 3:  142, 165.

3.Napralert. Echium, 3 parts, via email. University of Chicago, Illinois.

4.Delgado PL. Depression: the case for a monoamine deficiency. J Clin Psychiatry 2000; 61(60): 7-11.

5.Heninger GR, Delgado PL, Charney DS. The revised monoamine theory of depression: a modulatory role for monoamines based on new findings from monoamine depletion experiments in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry 1996; 29: 2-11.

6.Vogel H G, Vogel WH. Drug Discovery and Evaluation: Pharmacological Assays.  Berlin: Springer; 1997. 302-307.

7.Detke MJ, Lucki I. Detection of serotonergic and noradrenergic antidepressants in the rat forced swimming test: the effects of water depth. Behav Brain Res 1996; 73: 43-46.

8.Detke MJ, Johnson J, Lucki I. Acute and chronic antidepressant drug treatment in the rat forced swimming test model of depression. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 1997; 5: 107-112.

9.Walsh RN, Cummins RA. The Open-Field Test: a critical review. Psychol Bull 1976; 83: 482-504.

10.Porsolt RD, Bertin A, Blavet N, Deniel M, Jalfre M. Immobility induced by forced swimming in rats: effects of agents which modify central catecholamine and serotonin activity. Eur J Pharmacol 1979; 57: 201-210.

11. Porsolt RD, Bertin A, Jalfre M. Behavioral despair in mice: a primary screening test for antidepressants. Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther 1977; 229: 327-336.

12. Porsolt RD. Animal model of depression. Biomedicine 1979; 30: 139-140.

13. White HL, Scates PW, Cooper BR. Extracts of Ginkgo biloba leaves inhibit monoamine oxidase. Life Sci 1996; 58: 1315-1321.

14. Butterweck V, Jurgenliemk G, Nahrstedt A, Winterhoff H. Flavonoids from Hypericum perforatum show antidepressant activity in the forced swimming test. Planta Med 2000; 66: 3-6.

15. Butterweck V, Nahrstedt A, Evans J, Hufeisen S, Rauser L, Savage J,et al. In vitro receptor screening of pure constituents of St. John's wort reveals novel interactions with a number of GPCRs. Psychopharmacol (Berl) 2002; 162: 193-202.

16. Berton O, Ramos A, Chaouloff F, Mormde P. Behavioral reactivity to social and nonsocial stimulations: a multivariate analysis of six inbred rat strains. Behav Genet 1997; 27: 155-166.

17. Clement Y, Martin B, Venault P, Chapouthier G. Involvement of regions of the 4th and 7th chromosomes in the open-field activity of mice. Behav Brain Res 1995; 70: 51-57.