IMR Press / JIN / Volume 19 / Issue 3 / DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2020.03.172
Open Access Original Research
Antidepressant-like mechanism of honokiol in a rodent model of corticosterone-induced depression
Show Less
1 School of Chinese Materia Medica, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, 102488, P. R. China
2 School of Chinese Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, 100029, P. R. China
*Correspondence: (Hong-Sheng Chang)
These authors contributed equally.
J. Integr. Neurosci. 2020, 19(3), 459–467;
Submitted: 4 June 2020 | Revised: 10 August 2020 | Accepted: 17 August 2020 | Published: 30 September 2020
Copyright: © 2020 Zhang et al. Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license (

Depression is closely linked to hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis hyperactivity. Honokiol, a biphenolic lignan compound obtained from the traditional Chinese medicine Magnolia officinalis, can reduce the activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and improve depression-like behavior caused by hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis hyperactivity. The current study investigated the specific mechanism of action of this effect. A depression model was established by repeated injections of corticosterone to study the antidepressant-like effect of honokiol and its potential mechanism. Honokiol prevented the elevated activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and the depression-like behavior induced by corticosterone. Treatment with honokiol resulted in greater glucocorticoid receptor mRNA expression, greater glucocorticoid receptor-positive expression, and a greater ratio of glucocorticoid receptor to the mineralocorticoid receptor in the hippocampus. Moreover, honokiol treatment led to lower levels of interleukin-1β in serum and the positive expression of the interleukin-1β receptor in the hippocampus. These results demonstrate that the antidepressant-like mechanism of honokiol, which has effects on inflammatory factors, may act through restoring the typical activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis by regulating the glucocorticoid receptor-mediated negative feedback mechanism and the balance between glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors.

antidepressant effect
glucocorticoid receptor
hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis
Fig. 1.
Back to top