Jpn. J. Pharmacol. 86 (2), 215-222 (2001)

Enhancement of Phenylephrine-Induced Contraction in the Isolated Rat Aorta With Endothelium by H2O-Extract From an Oriental Medicinal Plant Leonuri herba

Shanling Pang1, Shizuko Tsuchiya1, Syunji Horie1, Masayuki Uchida2, Toshihiko Murayama1,* and Kazuo Watanabe1

1Laboratory of Chemical Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chiba University, Chiba 263-8522, Japan
2Food Functionality Research Institute, Meiji Milk Products Co., Kanagawa 250-0862, Japan

*Corresponding author. FAX: +81-43-290-3021, E-mail:

Abstract: Leonuri herba (I-mu-ts'ao, the Chinese motherwort) is an ancient Chinese traditional herb. Although the pharmacological effects of extracts of Leonuri herba have been shown in platelets and uteri, the effect on the vascular system has not been determined. In the present study, we investigated the effects of extracts of Leonuri herba on the contraction of the isolated rat aorta. Although the H2O-extract (0.3 - 3 mg/ml) by itself showed a limited effect, the extract enhanced phenylephrine-induced contraction of the aorta with endothelium, but not without endothelium. The H2O-extract, like NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME, an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase), significantly inhibited the relaxation induced by acetylcholine in the aorta with endothelium. The inhibitory effect of H2O-extract on the relaxation decreased by co-addition with 1 mM L-arginine. The vasoconstrictive effect of H2O-extract was not due to leonurine, which is a constituent in Leonuri herba and shows uterotonic activity. Intravenous injection of the H2O-extract (1.5 mg/kg) to rats caused an increase in blood pressure for 5 min, like L-NAME (1.35 mg/kg). These findings suggest that there is a component(s) in Leonuri herba, which shows a vasoconstrictive activity in rat aorta in vitro and in vivo and has similar pharmacological profile to that of L-NAME.

Keywords: Vasoconstriction, Nitric oxide, Endothelium, Leonuri herba, Rat aorta
[Back to TOC]