Heukharang lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) leaf extract displays sleep-promoting effects through GABAA receptor

Yejin Ahn, Hee Hwan Lee, Byung Hak Kim, Sang Jae Park, Young Suk Kim, Hyung Joo Suh, Kyungae Jo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Although lettuce is traditionally known to have hypnotic and sedative effects, to date, only a few studies have documented its sleep-promoting effects and elucidated the related mechanisms. Aim of the study: We aimed to investigate the sleep-promoting activity of Heukharang lettuce leaf extract (HLE) with increased lactucin content, known as a sleep-promoting substance in lettuce, in animal models. Materials and methods: To evaluate the effect of HLE on sleep behavior, analysis of electroencephalogram (EEG), gene expression of brain receptors, and activation mechanisms using antagonists were investigated in rodent models. Results: High-performance liquid chromatography analysis showed that HLE contained lactucin (0.78 mg/g of extract) and quercetin-3-glucuronide (1.3 mg/g of extract). In the pentobarbital-induced sleep model, the group administered 150 mg/kg of HLE showed a 47.3% increase in sleep duration time as compared to the normal group (NOR). The EEG analysis showed that the HLE significantly increased non-rapid eye movement (NREM), where delta waves were improved by 59.5% when compared to the NOR, resulting in increased sleep time. In the caffeine-induced arousal model, HLE significantly decreased the awake time increased by caffeine administration (35.5%) and showed a similar level to NOR. In addition, HLE increased the gene and protein expression of gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor type A (GABAA), GABA type B, and 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) receptor 1A. In particular, in comparison to the NOR, the group administered 150 mg/kg HLE showed an increase in expression levels of GABAA and protein by 2.3 and 2.5 times, respectively. When the expression levels were checked using GABAA receptor antagonists, HLE showed similar levels to NOR, as the sleep duration was reduced by flumazenil (45.1%), a benzodiazepine antagonist. Conclusions: HLE increased NREM sleep and significantly improved sleep behavior due to its action on the GABAA receptors. The collective findings suggest that HLE can be used as a novel sleep-enhancing agent in the pharmaceutical and food industries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116602
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Oct 5

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Technology Development Program ( S3133209 ), funded by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS, Korea).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • GABA receptor
  • Heukharang lettuce extract
  • Lactucin
  • Quercetin-3-glucuronide
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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