Hop Extract Eases Stress Damage and Depression Signs

Jenn Hoskins
15th April, 2024

Hop Extract Eases Stress Damage and Depression Signs

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In a Xinjiang University study, hop extract improved survival and health of brain-like cells exposed to stress
  • The same hop extract reduced depressive behaviors and brain inflammation in mice
  • Hop extract's benefits suggest it could be a new treatment for depression, targeting both brain cell protection and inflammation
Depression is a prevalent mental health issue that affects millions worldwide. While traditional treatments focus on balancing brain chemicals, recent research suggests that inflammation and brain cell health play critical roles in this condition. A new study from Xinjiang University[1] has investigated the potential of hop components, specifically hop ethyl acetate extract (HEA), as a novel approach to combating depression. The study builds on previous research that has linked sleep disorders to an increased risk of suicidal behavior in depressed patients[2], suggesting a complex interplay between brain health and mental well-being. Moreover, there is growing evidence that depression may not be solely a disorder of the brain's neurons, but also involve the brain's supportive cells, known as astrocytes[3]. Additionally, the relationship between depression, fatigue, and immune system activation[4] highlights the need for treatments that address these underlying biological factors. In the Xinjiang University study, researchers first created an in vitro model using PC12 cells, a type of cell that behaves similarly to neurons, to mimic the effects of depression. These cells were exposed to corticosterone (CORT), a stress hormone known to induce damage and depressive-like changes in brain cells. The team then treated these cells with HEA and observed its effects. Remarkably, HEA increased cell survival, reduced cell death, and decreased markers of cell damage and stress, such as lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release, apoptosis (programmed cell death), and the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO). To further validate their findings, the researchers employed an in vivo depression model in mice. By injecting lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a compound that induces inflammation, directly into the brains of mice, they were able to simulate aspects of depression. Treatment with HEA not only improved the mice's depressive-like behaviors but also counteracted neuroinflammation and the reduction of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter implicated in mood regulation. Moreover, HEA treatment led to an increase in the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), SNAP 25, and Tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB) proteins, which are essential for neuron health and function. These findings are significant as they suggest that components found in hops, a plant already widely used in the brewing industry, could offer a dual approach to treating depression by both protecting brain cells from stress-induced damage and reducing inflammation. This is particularly noteworthy given the potential link between astrocyte pathology and depression[3], as well as the association between immune system activation and depressive symptoms[4]. The study from Xinjiang University adds to the growing body of evidence that depression is a multifaceted disorder that may benefit from treatments targeting various biological pathways. HEA's apparent lack of significant side effects or toxicity also positions it as a promising candidate for development into antidepressant drugs or dietary therapy products. In conclusion, the research presents a compelling case for the neuroprotective and antidepressant effects of hop components. While further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms at play and to translate these findings into clinical treatments, this study offers hope for more effective and holistic approaches to managing depression. It also exemplifies the importance of exploring natural compounds, which may hold the key to unlocking new, more comprehensive treatment strategies for mental health disorders.

MedicineMental HealthBiotech


Main Study

1) Protective Effect of Hop Ethyl Acetate Extract on Corticosterone-Induced PC12 and Improvement of Depression-like Behavior in Mice.

Published 13th April, 2024


Related Studies

2) Systematic review and meta-analysis of the relationship between sleep disorders and suicidal behaviour in patients with depression.


3) An astroglial basis of major depressive disorder? An overview.


4) The Role of Inflammation in Depression and Fatigue.


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