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Background: Zuotai, a famous Tibetan medicinal mixture containing metacinnabar, is traditionally used for the purpose of tranquilizing minds and soothing nerves. However, it still lacks substantial experimental data for it to be approved for use. Aim: This study was designed to assess the effects of Zuotai on depressive-like symptoms in a chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) mouse model, and to explore its potential mechanism, particularly the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis pathway. Materials and methods: First, Kunming mice were exposed to the CUMS procedure and simultaneously administered Zuotai or imipramine (positive control) by gavage continuously for 6 weeks. Then, depressive-like behaviors of mice in each group were tested with the sucrose preference test, forced swimming test, tail suspension test, and open field test. Meanwhile, the three key neuroendocrine hormones (corticotropin releasing hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone and corticosterone) in HPA axis pathway, and the level of the emotion-related monoamine neurotransmitters (5-hydroxytryptamine and norepinephrine) were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Furthermore, total mercury in the hypothalamus and hippocampus were determined using an automatic, direct mercury analyzer. Results: Zuotai or imipramine significantly increased the body weight and the sucrose preference ratio in sucrose preference test, and dramatically improved motor activity in forced swimming test, tail suspension test, and open field test in CUMS mice. Zuotai or imipramine remarkably decreased levels of corticotropin-releasing hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and corticosterone in the HPA axis, and increased levels of 5-hydroxytryptamine and norepinephrine in the serum in CUMS mice. However, a small amount of mercury was deposited in the hypothalamus and hippocampus in Zuotai-treated mice, which may pose a potential risk to the central nervous system. Conclusion: Zuotai has a strong ability to ameliorate depressive-like behaviors in CUMS-treated mice through inhibition of the HPA axis and upregulation of monoamine neurotransmitters. These findings provide new insight into the pharmacological effect of Zuotai on depression.

This study presents an efficient strategy for separation of three phenolic compounds with high molecular weight from the crude extract of Terminalia chebula Retz. by ultrasound-assisted extraction and high-speed counter-current chromatography. The ultrasound-assisted extraction conditions were optimized by response surface methodology and the results showed the target compounds could be well enriched under the optimized extraction conditions. Then the crude extract was directly separated by high-speed counter-current chromatography without any pretreatment using n-hexane/ethyl acetate/methanol/water (1:7:0.5:3, v/v/v/v) as the solvent system. In 180 min, 13 mg of A, 18 mg of B, and 9 mg of C were obtained from 200 mg of crude sample. Their structures were identified as Chebulagic acid (A, 954 Da), Chebulinic acid (B, 956 Da), and Ellagic acid (C) by (1) H NMR spectroscopy.

Four common traditional tibetan medicine prescription preparations "Anzhijinghuasan, Dangzuo, Renqingchangjue and Rannasangpei" in tibetan areas were selected as study objects in the present study. The purpose was to try to establish a kind of wet digestion and flow injection-hydride generation-atomic absorption spectrometry (FI-HAAS) associated analysis method for the content determinations of lead and arsenic in traditional tibetan medicine under optimized digestion and measurement conditions and determine their contents accurately. Under these optimum operating conditions, experimental results were as follows. The detection limits for lead and arsenic were 0.067 and 0.012 µg · mL(-1) respectively. The quantification limits for lead and arsenic were 0.22 and 0.041 µg · mL(-1) respectively. The linear ranges for lead and arsenic were 25-1,600 ng · mL(-1) (r = 0.9995) and 12.5-800 ng · mL(-1) (r = 0.9994) respectively. The degrees of precision(RSD) for lead and arsenic were 2.0% and 3.2% respectively. The recovery rates for lead and arsenic were 98.00%-99.98% and 96.67%-99.87% respectively. The content determination results of lead and arsenic in four traditional tibetan medicine prescription preparations were as fol- lows. The contents of lead and arsenic in Anzhijinghuasan are 0.63-0.67 µg · g(-1) and 0.32-0.33 µg · g(-1) in Anzhijinghua- san, 42.92-43.36 µg · g(-1) and 24.67-25.87 µg · g(-1) in Dangzuo, 1,611. 39-1,631.36 µg · g(-1) and 926.76-956.52 µg- g(-1) in Renqing Changjue, and 1,102.28-1,119.127 µg-g(-1) and 509.96-516.87 µg · g(-1) in Rannasangpei, respectively. This study established a method for content determination of lead and arsenic in traditional tibetan medicine, and determined the content levels of lead and arsenic in four tibetan medicine-prescription preparations accurately. In addition, these results also provide the basis for the safe and effective use of those medicines in clinic.

In clinical practice at Tibetan area of China, Traditional Tibetan Medicine formula Wuwei-Ganlu-Yaoyu-Keli (WGYK) is commonly added in warm water of bath therapy to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, its mechanism of action is not well interpreted yet. In this paper, we first verify WGYK's anti-RA effect by an animal experiment. Then, based on gene expression data from microarray experiments, we apply approaches of network pharmacology to further reveal the mechanism of action for WGYK to treat RA by analyzing protein-protein interactions and pathways. This study may facilitate our understanding of anti-RA effect of WGYK from perspective of network pharmacology.