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Shen-Qi-Jie-Yu-Fang has antidepressant effects in a rodent model of postpartum depression by regulating the immune organs and subsets of T lymphocytes

Authors Qu M, Tang Q, Li X, Zhao R, Li J, Xu H, Gao Y, Mao Y

Received 5 March 2015

Accepted for publication 10 April 2015

Published 23 June 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 1523—1540


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Wai Kwong Tang

Miao Qu,1 Qisheng Tang,1 Xiaoli Li,1 Ruizhen Zhao,1 Jingya Li,1 Hong Xu,2 Yushan Gao,2 Yingqiu Mao3

Third Affiliated Hospital, 2School of Basic Medical Sciences, 3Center of Scientific Research, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, People’s Republic of China

Background: Shen-Qi-Jie-Yu-Fang (SJ Fang) is a herbal preparation used in traditional Chinese medicine, and is a potentially important new therapeutic agent in postpartum depression (PPD). Previously, we have elucidated the effects of SJ Fang on hormone receptors and monoamine neurotransmitters involved in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axes in PPD rats. However, the immune-modulating effects of SJ Fang in PPD are still unknown. In this study, we explored the effects of SJ Fang on the immune organs and subsets of T lymphocytes in PPD rats.
Methods: PPD was created in Sprague-Dawley rats by inducing hormone-simulated pregnancy followed by hormone withdrawal. After hormone withdrawal, the PPD rats were then treated with fluoxetine at 1, 2, and 4 weeks, and the SJ Fang rats were also treated at 1, 2, and 4 weeks. Depressive behavior in the rats was evaluated by the forced swim test, sucrose consumption test, and open field test. The thymus index and spleen index were calculated. Hematoxylin-eosin staining was used to identify pathological features in the thymus and spleen. CD3, CD4, and CD8 lymphocyte subsets were analyzed by flow cytometry.
Results: Both fluoxetine and SJ Fang decreased immobility time, increased sucrose consumption, an horizontal and vertical movement. After 4 weeks of treatment with fluoxetine or SJ Fang, the thymus index and spleen index were significantly higher than at baseline, and the morphology of the thymus and spleen were returning to normal. Two weeks after hormone withdrawal, subsets of T lymphocytes indicated a shift from immune activation to immune suppression, which was reversed by 4 weeks of treatment with fluoxetine or SJ Fang.
Conclusion: It is suggested that T-cell mediate immune responses which may play a role in the etiopathology of postpartum depression. SJ Fang had an antidepressant effect on the immune system in rats with PPD.

Keywords: spleen index, thymus index, Hematoxylin and eosin staining, CD4+/CD8+ ratio, immune activation, immune suppression

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