Schisandra chinensis is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for treating insomnia and neurasthenia for centuries. Lignans, which are considered to be the bioactive components, are apt to be extracted by supercritical carbon dioxide. This study was conducted to investigate the sedative and hypnotic activities of the supercritical carbon dioxide fluid extraction of S. chinensis (SFES) in mice and the possible mechanisms. SFES exhibited an obvious sedative effect on shortening the locomotor activity in mice in a dose-dependent (10–200 mg/kg) manner. SFES (50 mg/kg, 100 mg/kg, and 200 mg/kg, intragstrically) showed a strong hypnotic effect in synergy with pentobarbital in mouse sleep, and reversal of insomnia induced by caffeine, p-chlorophenylalanine and flumazenil by decreasing sleep latency, sleep recovery, and increasing sleeping time. In addition, it produced a synergistic effect with 5-hydroxytryptophan (2.5 mg/kg, intraperitoneally). The behavioral pharmacological results suggest that SFES has significant sedative and hypnotic activities, and the mechanisms might be relevant to the serotonergic and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic system. © 2016

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