Cordyceps sinensis (CS) has been known as a component of traditional medicines that elicit various biological effects such as anti-fatigue, immunomodulatory, and hypoglycemic actions. Since it has been well-established that fatigue is closely related to depression, we used the tail suspension test (TST) in mice to examine the antidepressant-like effects of hot water extract (HWCS) and supercritical fluid extract (SCCS) of CS. Immobility time in the TST was reduced by administration of SCCS (2.5-10 ml/kg, p.o.) dose-dependently though it was not reduced by treatment with HWCS (500-2000 mg/kg, p.o.). Neither HWCS nor SCCS altered locomotor activity in the open field test, excluding the possibility that the effect of SCCS is due to activation of locomotion. Pretreatment with prazosin (an adrenoreceptor antagonist) or sulpiride (a dopamine D2 receptor antagonist) reduced the effect of SCCS on the immobility time. In contrast, pretreatment with p-chlorophenylalanine (p-CPA, a serotonin synthesis inhibitor) did not alter the anti-immobility effect of SCCS. The last finding is consistent with an additional observation that SCCS had no effect on head twitch response induced by 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan in mice. Taken altogether, these results suggest that SCCS may elicit an antidepressant-like effect by affecting the adrenergic and dopaminergic systems, but not by affecting the serotonergic system.
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