Mechanisms of Action of Uncaria rhynchophylla Ethanolic Extract for Its Vasodilatory Effects

J Med Food. 2017 Sep;20(9):895-911. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2016.3804. Epub 2017 Aug 3.


Uncaria rhynchophylla is one of the major components included in Traditional Chinese Medicine prescriptions for hypertensive treatment. Previous studies have suggested that U. rhynchophylla might contain vasodilation-mediating active compounds, especially indole alkaloids. Hence, this study was carried out to determine the vasodilatory effects of U. rhynchophylla, which was extracted by different solvents. The most effective extract was then further studied for its signaling mechanism pathways. The authenticity of U. rhynchophylla was assured by using modernized tri-step Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), including conventional 1D FTIR, second derivative scanning combined with 2D-correlated IR spectroscopy. Results obtained proved that the fingerprint of U. rhynchophylla used was identical to the atlas. Isolated aortic rings from male Sprague-Dawley rats were preconstricted with phenylephrine (PE) followed by cumulative addition of U. rhynchophylla extracts. The signaling mechanism pathways were studied by incubation with different receptor antagonists before the PE precontraction. In conclusion, the 95% ethanolic U. rhynchophylla extract (GT100) was found to be most effective with an EC50 value of 0.028 ± 0.002 mg/mL and an Rmax value of 101.30% ± 2.82%. The signaling mechanism pathways employed for exerting its vasodilatory effects included nitric oxide/soluble guanylyl cylcase/cyclic guanosine monophosphate (NO/sGC/cGMP) and PGI2 (endothelium-derived relaxing factors), G protein-coupled M3- and β2 receptors, regulation of membrane potential through voltage-operated calcium channel, intracellular Ca2+ released from inositol triphosphate receptor (IP3R), and all potassium channels except the Kca channel.

Keywords: Chinese medicine; Uncaria rhynchophylla; anti-hypertension; mechanism pathways; signaling; traditional vasodilation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension / metabolism
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Uncaria / chemistry*
  • Vasodilation / drug effects
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Nitric Oxide