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Open Access Research article

Antidepressant-like effects of the aqueous macerate of the bulb of Gladiolus dalenii Van Geel (Iridaceae) in a rat model of epilepsy-associated depression

Gwladys Temkou Ngoupaye1234*, Elisabeth Ngo Bum2 and Willie Mark Uren Daniels1

Author Affiliations

1 Discipline of Human Physiology, School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

2 Department of Biological Science, University of Ngaoundéré, Ngaoundéré, Cameroon

3 Department of Animal Biology, University of Dschang, Dschang, Cameroon

4 Laboratory of Physiology and Phytopharmacology, Department of Animal Biology, University of Dschang, P.O. BOX: 67, Dschang, Cameroon

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:272  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-272

Published: 20 October 2013

Abstract

Background

In Cameroonian traditional medicine various extracts of Gladiolus dalenii Van Geel (Iridaceae) have been used as a cure for various ailments that include headaches, digestive problems, muscle and joint aches, and some central nervous system disorders such as epilepsy, schizophrenia and mood disorders. Owning to this background, the aim of the study was to investigate whether an aqueous macerate of the bulb of Gladiolus dalenii has any antidepressant activity focusing specifically on depression-like behaviours associated with epilepsy.

Method

We used the combined administration of atropine and pilocarpine to rats as our animal model of epilepsy. The forced swim test and spontaneous locomotor activity in the open field test were the two tools used to assess the presence of depression-like behaviour in epileptic and control animals. The following depression-related parameters were determined: plasma ACTH, plasma corticosterone, adrenal gland weight and hippocampal levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The effects of Gladiolus dalenii were compared to that of fluoxetine.

Results

Our results showed that we had a valid animal model of epilepsy-induced depression as all 3 measures of construct, predictive and face validity were satisfied. The data indicated that Gladiolus dalenii significantly reduced the immobility times in the forced swim test and the locomotor activity as assessed in the open field. A similar pattern was observed when the HPA axis parameters were analysed. Gladiolus dalenii significantly reduced the levels of ACTH, corticosterone, but not the adrenal gland weight. Gladiolus dalenii significantly increased the level of BDNF in the hippocampus. In all parameters measured the effects of Gladiolus dalenii were significantly greater than those of fluoxetine.

Conclusion

The results show that Gladiolus dalenii has antidepressant-like properties similar to those of fluoxetine in epilepsy-associated depressive states. The antidepressant activity of Gladiolus dalenii is likely to be mediated by restoring the activity of the HPA axis and increasing the levels of BDNF in the hippocampus.

Keywords:
Depression; Epilepsy; HPA axis; BDNF; Gladiolus dalenii