Pomegranate (Punica granatum) fruit is of particular interest because of its high nutritional value and therapeutic actions. Recently, we showed that an aqueous extract of pomegranate (AE-PG) given by oral route induced antidepressant-like actions mediated by estrogen receptors (ERs) suggesting its potential to function as an alternative to estrogen therapy replacement in menopause-related depression treatment. Orally administered AE-PG allows the biotransformation of ellagitannins into active estrogenic compounds through the intestinal microbiota. However, it is necessary to know if compounds that do not need to be biotransformed by the intestinal microbiota are involved in the antidepressant-like effects. Therefore, the first aim of this study was to determine if AE-PG produces an antidepressant-like effect when administered intraperitoneally. Also, to determine the participation of specific ER-subtypes (α or β) and to analyze the role of the serotonergic system. Young female Wistar rats were ovariectomized as a surgical model of menopause. The intraperitoneal administration of AE-PG (1 mg/kg; i.p.) was evaluated in the forced swimming test and open field tests. Also, the ERα antagonist (TPBM; 50 μg/rat; s.c.) or the ERβ antagonist (PHTPP; 25 μg/rat; s.c.) were administered with AE-PG to analyze the participation of the specific ERs. Finally, the effect of the serotonin neurotoxin 5,7-DHT (200 μg/rat; i.c.v.) on the antidepressant-like effect of the AE-PG was studied in independent experimental groups. RESULTS: showed that AE-PG administered by intraperitoneal route induced antidepressant-like effects. This result suggests that gut microbiota biotransformation is not necessary to exert its actions. The mechanism of action involves the activation of the ERβ and the serotonergic system. Altogether, this information contributes to the elucidation of the antidepressant action of the pomegranate fruit, which could be further considered as an alternative treatment for depression during menopause.
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