Piper nigrum L. fruits are not only a prized spice, but also highly valued therapeutic agent that heals many ailments including asthma, cold and respiratory problems. Herein, we have investigated structural features and in vivo antitussive activity of three fractions isolated from Piper nigrum fruits. The water extract (PN-WE) upon fractionation with EtOH yielded two fractions: a soluble fraction (PN-eSf) and a precipitated (PN-ePf) one. The existence of a pectic polysaccharide with arabinogalactan type II side chains (147kDa) in PN-ePf and piperine in PN-eSf were revealed. Moreover, oligosaccharides providing fine structural details of side chains were generated from PN-ePf and then characterized. The parental water extract (PN-WE) that contained both pectic polysaccharide and piperine, after oral administration (50mgkg-1 body weight) to guinea pigs, showed antitussive activity comparable to codeine phosphate (10mgkg-1 body weight). The EtOH precipitated fraction (PN-ePf) containing pectic polysaccharide showed comparatively higher antitussive activity than EtOH soluble fraction (PN-eSf) that contained piperine, but their potencies are lower than the parental water extract. Significantly, the specific airway smooth muscle reactivity of all three fractions remained unchanged. Finally, pectic polysaccharide-piperine combination in parental extract synergistically enhances antitussive effect in guinea pigs.
Keywords: Antitussive activity; Pectic polysaccharide; Piper nigrum; Piperine; Specific airway resistance; Synergistic effect.
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