, Volume 236, Issue 7, pp 2173–2185 | Cite as

Tetramethylpyrazine ameliorates depression by inhibiting TLR4-NLRP3 inflammasome signal pathway in mice

  • Songnian Fu
  • Jiangtao Wang
  • Chenguang Hao
  • Haihong Dang
  • Sheng JiangEmail author
Original Investigation


Depression is a common but serious mental illness; meanwhile, it is also an inflammatory disorder. Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), as the pattern recognition receptor, has been shown to play a vital role in neuroinflammation. The nucleotide binding and oligomerization domain-like receptor family pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome acts as an important signaling molecule downstream of TLR4 and can promote the maturation of inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-1β (IL-1β). Tetramethylpyrazine (TMP) is a natural compound with neuroprotective effects but with unknown mechanisms on its antidepressant-like effect. In this study, we hypothesized that TMP ameliorates depression may be through the inhibition of the TLR4-NF-κB-NLRP3 signal pathway. Our results have shown that chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) that induced the decreased sucrose preference and increased immobile time was prominently reversed by TMP and fluoxetine. Additionally, we also found that CUMS induced the upregulation of proinflammatory cytokines; TLR4 and NLRP3-associated proteins were significantly suppressed by TMP in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. TMP also exhibited potent antioxidant effects and increased the monoamine levels in the serum and brain, such as increasing the activity of SOD and GSH-Px, and reducing the activity of MDA in the serum, and elevating the 5-HT and NE concentration in the serum and brain. Moreover, treatment with Cli-095 (TLR4 inhibitor) also markedly inhibited CUMS-induced depression-like behaviors. Taken together, our findings suggested that TMP exerted a potential antidepressant-like effect in CUMS mice, and the molecular mechanisms may relate to inhibit the TLR4-NF-κB-NLRP3 signaling pathway in the brain.


Tetramethylpyrazine CUMS TLR4 NLRP3 Depression 


Author contribution

Author Songnian Fu and Sheng Jiang designed the study and wrote the protocol. Author Songnian Fu and Jiangtao Wang managed the literature searches and analyses. Authors Chenguang Hao and Haihong Dang undertook the statistical analysis, and author Songnian Fu wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors contributed to and have approved the final manuscript.

Funding information

This work was supported by the Priority Academic Program Development of Xinjiang Higher Education Institutions.

Compliance with ethical standards

All animal experiments were approved by the Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee (AEEC) of Xinjiang Medical University, which in accordance with the “Guide and Care and Use of Laboratory Animals” (National Institutes of Health).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

213_2019_5210_MOESM1_ESM.docx (618 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 617 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Songnian Fu
    • 1
  • Jiangtao Wang
    • 1
  • Chenguang Hao
    • 2
  • Haihong Dang
    • 1
  • Sheng Jiang
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Psychological Medicine CenterThe First Affiliated Hospital of Xinjiang Medical UniversityUrumqiChina
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyThe First Affiliated Hospital Xinjiang Medical UniversityUrumqiChina
  3. 3.Department of EndocrinologyThe First Affiliated Hospital of Xinjiang Medical UniversityUrumqiPeople’s Republic of China

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