It is well established that chronic exposure to stressful events plays an important role in the etiology of depression. Saraca asoca (Roxb.), De. wild, or Saraca indica, belonging to family Fabaceae, is endogenous to India. The flowers, seeds, bark, and leaves of the plant have been used widely in Ayurveda medicine. The bark extract of S. asoca has shown chemoprotection, myeloprotection, and antioxidant potential. Owing to the above-mentioned properties of the plant, the present study sought to evaluate the effect of a methanolic extract of S. asoca bark in rats exposed to chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) daily for 8 weeks using a forced-swim test, an open-field test, and a sucrose-preference test. The effect of the extract on endogenous antioxidant levels in the brain was also assessed using catalase activity, superoxide dismutase activity, reduced glutathione levels, and malondialdehyde levels in the brain. Male Sprague-Dawley rats received 100 mg/kg (oral) of the extract daily 1 h before daily stress exposure for 8 weeks. The extract showed a significant reduction in the immobility time in the forced-swim test, increased the total number of line crossing, rearing, and grooming in the open-field test, and increased the sucrose consumption as well as the levels of endogenous antioxidants significantly in comparison with the CUMS control group. Therefore, S. asoca might be a useful agent for the treatment or alleviation of symptoms associated with depression possibly by reducing CUMS-induced oxidative stress and reactive oxygen species in the brain.
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