Immobility induced by forced swimming is well known as an animal model of depression. Using this paradigm, we have, in the present work, tested the possibility that the medicinal plant Rhazya stricta, which has previously been found to affect the monoamine oxidase inhibitory activity in rat brain, may have an antidepressant-like action. Rats were pretreated with various doses (0.025-6.4 g/kg) of the lyophilized extract of the plant leaves, or with desipramine (10, 20, and 40 mg/kg) and were subjected to the forced swimming test. The results indicated that the plant extract produced a biphasic (bell-shaped) effect on the immobility time. The lower doses (0.1, 0.2, and 0.4 g/kg) elicited a highly significant and inversely dose-dependent decrease in immobility time, and the higher doses (0.8, 1.6, and 6.4 g/kg) showed a dose-dependent decrease in immobility time. Under the same experimental conditions desipramine (20 and 40 mg/kg) produced dose-dependent significant decreases in immobility time. Following administration of X, stricta (6.4 g/kg) the immobility time recovered progressively with time, and 4 h after its administration the immobility time was about 70% of the control level (statistically insignificant). It is concluded that R. stricta extract [or component(s) thereof] may possess an antidepressant-like effect.
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