Antidepressants with novel targets and without side effects are in great demand. Ferulic acid (FA) is a ubiquitous phenolic acid of low toxicity, and sodium ferulate (SF) is its sodium salt. Our previous studies have revealed that FA and SF show significant protective effect on excitotoxicity, we now test its potential neuroprotective and antidepressant-like effects. MTT assay and morphological analysis by fluorescence microscopy were adopted to measure the neuroprotective effects of SF; forced-swimming, tail-suspension, and chronic mild stress (CMS) tests were performed to assess its antidepressant-like activity. The results showed that SF had protection against H2O2-induced oxidative damage and dexamethasone (DXM)-induced neurotoxicity pheochromocytoma (PC12) cells. Acute administration of SF markedly decreased the duration of immobility during forced-swimming in rats and mice and tail-supension tests in mice. However, SF has no any effects on reserpine-induced hypothermia, 5-hydroxytryptophan-induced head-twitch response, and potentiation of noradrenaline toxicity in mice. Chronic administration of SF reversed the effects of CMS on consumption of food and sucrose solution, weight gain, and histopathology of hippocampus by light microscopy, and potently shortened the immobility time during forced-swimming test following CMS in rats. This study provides evidence that SF possesses obviously antidepressant-like activity, and the antidepressant-like effect may result from its neuroprotective effects.
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