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The leaves of Mitracarpus villosus (Sw.) DC. (Rubiaceae) have several therapeutic applications in the West African folk medicine for the management of a plethora of stress-related diseases including headaches. This study was designed to evaluate the sedative properties of the ethylacetate extract of Mitracarpus villosus on open field (OFT), diazepam-induced sleep, staircase climbing, head-dips in the hole-board test and rota rod test in mice. Graded doses (100 – 400 mg/kg) of the extract significantly and dose-dependently prolonged the duration of diazepam-induced sleep (P<0.05), decreased the number of squares crossed in the OFT (P<0.0001), decreased number of head-dips in the hole-board test (P<0.05) and reduced steps climbing (P<0.05) in mice. The extract at the doses tested had no effect on motor coordination as observed in the rota-rod treadmill assay in mice. Our results revealed that the ethylacetate extract of Mitracarpus villosus leaves may contain psychoactive principles that are sedative in nature, thus supporting further development of the psychoactive components of this plant for management of stress-related diseases.
Keywords: Mitracarpus villosus, sedation, diazepam, locomotion.