The antidepressant effects of curcumin in the forced swimming test involve 5-HT1 and 5-HT2 receptors

Rui Wang, Ying Xu, Hong Li Wu, Ying Bo Li, Yu Hua Li, Jia Bin Guo, Xue Jun Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


Curcuma longa is a main constituent of many traditional Chinese medicines, such as Xiaoyao-san, used to manage mental disorders effectively. Curcumin is a major active component of C. longa and its antidepressant-like effect has been previously demonstrated in the forced swimming test. The purpose of this study was to explore the possible contribution of serotonin (5-HT) receptors in the behavioral effects induced by curcumin in this animal model of depression. 5-HT was depleted by the tryptophan hydroxylase inhibitor p-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA, 100 mg/kg, i.p.) prior to the administration of curcumin, and the consequent results showed that PCPA blocked the anti-immobility effect of curcumin in forced swimming test, suggesting the involvement of the serotonergic system. Moreover, pre-treatment of pindolol (10 mg/kg, i.p., a β-adrenoceptors blocker/5-HT1A/1B receptor antagonist), 4-(2′-methoxy-phenyl)-1-[2′-(n-2″-pyridinyl)-p-iodobenzamino-]ethyl-piperazine (p-MPPI, 1 mg/kg, s.c., a selective 5-HT1A receptor antagonist), or 1-(2-(1-pyrrolyl)-phenoxy)-3-isopropylamino-2-propanol (isamoltane, 2.5 mg/kg, i.p., a 5-HT1B receptor antagonist) was found to prevent the effect of curcumin (10 mg/kg) in forced swimming test. On the other hand, a sub-effective dose of curcumin (2.5 mg/kg, p.o.) produced a synergistic effect when given jointly with (+)-8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin, (8-OH-DPAT, 1 mg/kg, i.p., a 5-HT1A receptor agonist), anpirtoline (0.25 mg/kg, i.p., a 5-HT1B receptor agonist) or ritanserin (4 mg/kg, i.p., a 5-HT2A/2C receptor antagonist), but not with ketanserin (5 mg/kg, i.p., a 5-HT2A/2C receptor antagonist with higher affinity to 5-HT2A receptor) or R(-)-1-(2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenyl)-2-aminopropane (DOI, 1 mg/kg, i.p., a 5-HT2A receptor agonist). Taken together, these results indicate that the antidepressant-like effect of curcumin in the forced swimming test is related to serotonergic system and may be mediated by, at least in part, an interaction with 5-HT1A/1B and 5-HT2C receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 6 Jan 2008


  • 5-HT receptors
  • 5-HT receptors
  • Antidepressant
  • Curcumin
  • Depression
  • Forced swimming test


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