Planta Med 1998; 64(4): 291-294
DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-957437
Rapid Communication
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Solubilized Hypericin and Pseudohypericin from Hypericum perforatum Exert Antidepressant Activity in the Forced Swimming Test3

Veronika Butterweck1 , 2 , Frank Petereit1 , Hilke Winterhoff2 , Adolf Nahrstedt1
  • 1Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology and Phytochemistry, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany
  • 2Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany
3 Part of the PhD thesis of V. Butterweck
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Publication History



Publication Date:
04 January 2007 (online)


It has been shown recently that the fraction IIIc of a crude extract of Hypericum perforatum, (St. John's wort) that contained both hypericin (1) and pseudohypericin (2), was remarkably active in the rats forced swimming test (FST) after Porsolt. However, neither of the naphthodianthrones isolated from this fraction were sufficiently effective when administered suspended in water. The solubility of 1 and 2 is remarkably increased in the presence of a fraction containing procyanidins, especially procyanidin B2, which is present also in the active Hypericum fraction IIIc. The cooperative effect of procyanidins significantly increased the in vivo effects of 1 and 2, which exhibited inverted U-shaped dose response curves, in the FST. The anti-immobility effect of solubilized 1 and 2 was antagonized by the dopamine antagonist sulpiride. These data indicate that naphthodianthrones are antidepressant constituents of H. perforatum and suggest that the dopaminergic system is involved in their action.