GABAA receptors as in vivo substrate for the anxiolytic action of valerenic acid, a major constituent of valerian root extracts

Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
Neuropharmacology (Impact Factor: 5.11). 07/2008; 56(1):174-81. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2008.06.013
Source: PubMed


Valerian extracts have been used for centuries to alleviate restlessness and anxiety albeit with unknown mechanism of action in vivo. We now describe a specific binding site on GABA(A) receptors with nM affinity for valerenic acid and valerenol, common constituents of valerian. Both agents enhanced the response to GABA at multiple types of recombinant GABA(A) receptors. A point mutation in the beta2 or beta3 subunit (N265M) of recombinant receptors strongly reduced the drug response. In vivo, valerenic acid and valerenol exerted anxiolytic activity with high potencies in the elevated plus maze and the light/dark choice test in wild type mice. In beta3 (N265M) point-mutated mice the anxiolytic activity of valerenic acid was absent. Thus, neurons expressing beta3 containing GABA(A) receptors are a major cellular substrate for the anxiolytic action of valerian extracts.

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    • "The compounds responsible for the anticonvulsant properties of valerian have not been identified, although many compounds have been identified in valerian extracts , including valepotriates, alkaloids, sesquiterpenes, alcohols, volatile oils, aromatic compounds and other polar and non-polar organic compounds[26,54]. The medicinal properties of valerian extracts is attributed to valerenic acid, one of the main components in valerian extracts[30]. The HPLC analysis of valerian species present in our extracts found valerenic acid to be present in the ethanolic extract, in addition to hydroxyvalerenic acid and acetoxyvalerenic acid, but valerenic acid was not detected in the aqueous extract although both hydroxyvalerenic acid and acetoxyvalerenic acid were also present. "
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    ABSTRACT: Anticonvulsant properties have been attributed to extracts of the herbal medicine Valeriana officinalis. Our aims were to examine the anticonvulsant properties of valerenic acid and valerian extracts and to determine whether valerian preparations interact with the activity of other anti-epileptic drugs (phenytoin or clonazepam). To achieve these goals, we validated the adult zebrafish, Danio rerio, as an animal model for studying anticonvulsant drugs. All drug treatments were administered by immersion in water containing the drug. For assays of anticonvulsant activity, zebrafish were pretreated with: anti-epileptic drugs, valerenic acid, aqueous or ethanolic valerian extracts, or mixtures (phenytoin or clonazepam with valerenic acid or valerian extracts). Seizures were then induced with pentylenetetrazole (PTZ). A behavioral scale was developed for scoring PTZ-induced seizures in adult zebrafish. The seizure latency was evaluated for all pretreatments and control, untreated fish. Valerenic acid and both aqueous and ethanolic extracts of valerian root were also evaluated for their ability to improve survival after pentylenetetrazole-challenge. The assay was validated by comparison with well-studied anticonvulsant drugs (phenytoin, clonazepam, gabapentin and valproate). One-way ANOVA followed by Tukey post-hoc test was performed, using a p < 0.05 level of significance. All treatments were compared with the untreated animals and with the other pretreatments. After exposure to pentylenetetrazole, zebrafish exhibited a series of stereotypical behaviors prior to the appearance of clonic-like movements-convulsions. Both valerenic acid and valerian extracts (aqueous and ethanolic) significantly extended the latency period to the onset of seizure (convulsion) in adult zebrafish. The ethanolic valerian extract was a more potent anticonvulsant than the aqueous extract. Valerenic acid and both valerian extracts interacted synergistically with clonazepam to extended the latency period to the onset of seizure. Phenytoin showed interaction only with the ethanolic valerian extracts. Valerenic acid and valerian extracts have anticonvulsant properties in adult zebrafish. Valerian extracts markedly enhanced the anticonvulsant effect of both clonazepam and phenytoin, and could contribute to therapy of epileptic patients.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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    • "This good bioavailability is in line with the reported anxiolysis of VA after oral administration in mice (Benke et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Valerenic acid (VA) is a β2/3 subunit-specific modulator of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) type A (GABAA) receptors inducing anxiolysis. Here we analyze if VA-esters can serve as prodrugs and if different ester structures have different in vitro/in vivo effects. Modulation of GABAA receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes was studied with 2- microelectrode-voltage-clamp. Anxiolytic effects of the VA- esters were studied on male C57BL/6N mice by means of the Elevated-Plus-Maze-test; anticonvulsant properties were deduced from changes in seizure threshold upon pentylenetetrazole-infusion. VA was detected in plasma confirming hydrolysis of the esters and release of VA in vivo. Esterification significantly reduced the positive allosteric modulation of GABAA (α1β3γ2S) receptors in vitro. In vivo, the studied VA-ester derivatives induced similar or even stronger anxiolytic and anticonvulsant action than VA. While methylation and propylation of VA resulted in faster onset of anxiolysis, the action of VA-ethylester was longer lasting, but occurred with a significant delay. The later finding is in line with the longer lasting anticonvulsant effects of this compound. The estimated VA plasma concentrations provided first insight into the release kinetics from different VA-esters. This might be an important step for its future clinical application as a potential non-sedative anxiolytic and anticonvulsant.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · European journal of pharmacology
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    • "Natural products from distinct structural classes including flavonoids [22] [23] [24] [25], terpenoids [26- 28], sesquiterpenes [29] [30] [31], diterpenes [32] , triterpene glycosides [33], polyacetylenes [34], (neo)lignans [28] [35], alkaloids [3] or (furano)coumarins [36] [37] have been shown to modulate GABA A receptors. "
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