J Ginseng Res. 2020 Jul ;44(4):644-654. Epub 2019 Oct 1. PMID: 32617045
Korean Red Ginseng prevents posttraumatic stress disorder-triggered depression-like behaviors in rats via activation of the serotonergic system.
Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental disorder induced by traumatic stress and often accompanied by depression and/or anxiety, may involve an imbalance in the neurotransmitters associated with the fear response. Korean Red Ginseng (KRG) has long been used as a traditional medicine and is known to be involved in a variety of pharmacological activities. We used the open field test and forced swimming test to examine the effects of KRG on the depression-like response of rats after exposure to single prolonged stress (SPS), leading to activation of the serotonergic system.Methods: Male rats received KRG (30, 50, and 100 mg/kg, intraperitoneal injection) once daily for 14 days after exposure to SPS.Results: Daily KRG administration significantly improved depression-like behaviors in the forced swimming test, increased the number of lines crossed and time spent in the central zone in the open field test, and decreased freezing behavior in contextual and cued fear conditioning. KRG treatment attenuated SPS-induced decreases in serotonin (5-HT) tissue concentrations in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex. The increased 5-HT concentration during KRG treatment may be partially attributable to the 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid/5-HT ratio in the hippocampus of rats with PTSD. These effects may be caused by the activation of hippocampal genes encoding tryptophan hydroxylase-1 and 2 mRNA levels.Conclusion: Our findings suggest that KRG has an antidepressant effect in rats subjected to SPS and may represent an effective use of traditional medicine for the treatment of PTSD.