Relaxant Effect of Flavonoid Naringenin on Contractile Activity of Rat Colonic Smooth Muscle

J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Sep 11;155(2):1177-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2014.06.053. Epub 2014 Jul 2.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Disturbed gastrointestinal (GI) motility can be associated with smooth muscle abnormalities and dysfunction. Exploring innovative approaches that can modulate the disturbed colonic motility are of great importance for clinical therapeutics. Naringenin, a flavonoid presented in many traditional Chinese herbal medicines, has been shown to have a relaxant effect on different smooth muscles. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of naringenin on regulation of GI motility.

Material and methods: Mechanical recording was used to investigate the effect of naringenin on isolated rat colonic smooth muscle spontaneous contractions. Whole cell patch clamp, intracellular [Ca(2+)] concentration ([Ca(2+)]i) and membrane potential measurements were examined on primary cultures of colonic smooth muscle cells (SMCs). A neostigmine-stimulated rat model was utilized to investigate the effect of naringenin in vivo.

Results: Naringenin induced a concentration-dependent inhibition (1-1000 μM) on rat colonic spontaneous contraction, which was reversible after wash out. The external Ca(2+) influx induced contraction and [Ca(2+)]i increase were inhibited by naringenin (100 μM). In rat colonic SMCs, naringenin-induced membrane potential hyperpolarization was sensitive to TEA and selective large-conductance calcium-activated K(+) (BKCa) channel inhibitor iberiotoxin. Under whole cell patch-clamp condition, naringenin stimulated an iberiotoxin-sensitive BKCa current, which was insensitive to changes in the [Ca(2+)]i concentration. Furthermore, naringenin significantly suppressed neostigmine-enhanced rat colon transit in vivo.

Conclusion: Our results for the first time demonstrated the relaxant effect of flavonoid naringenin on colon smooth muscle both in vitro and in vivo. The relaxant effect of naringenin was attributed to direct activation of BKCa channels, which subsequently hyperpolarized the colonic SMCs and decreased Ca(2+) influx through VDCC. Naringenin might be of therapeutic value in the treatment of GI motility disorders.

Keywords: BK(Ca); Naringenin; Naringenin (PubChem CID: 932); Relaxant effect; Smooth muscle; Spontaneous contraction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colon / drug effects*
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Flavanones / pharmacology*
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Large-Conductance Calcium-Activated Potassium Channel alpha Subunits / agonists
  • Large-Conductance Calcium-Activated Potassium Channel alpha Subunits / metabolism
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Muscle Relaxation / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Smooth / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / drug effects
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / physiology
  • Neostigmine / pharmacology
  • Neuromuscular Agents / pharmacology*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Flavanones
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Kcnma1 protein, rat
  • Large-Conductance Calcium-Activated Potassium Channel alpha Subunits
  • Neuromuscular Agents
  • Neostigmine
  • naringenin
  • Calcium