Naringenin induces laxative effects by upregulating the expression levels of c-Kit and SCF, as well as those of aquaporin 3 in mice with loperamide-induced constipation

Int J Mol Med. 2018 Feb;41(2):649-658. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2017.3301. Epub 2017 Dec 1.


Constipation is a common affliction which causes discomfort and affects the quality of life of affected individuals. Naringenin (NAR), a natural flavonoid widely found in citrus fruits and tomatoes, has been reported to exhibit various pharmacological effects, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic, anti-mutagenic, hepatoprotective and anticancer effects. Increasing evidence has indicated that NAR has potential for use in the treatment of constipation. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the laxative effects of NAR in mice with loperamide-induced (Lop-induced) constipation. The data indicated that NAR relieved Lop-induced constipation in mice based on the changes of fecal parameters (numbers, weight and water content), the intestinal charcoal transit ratio and the histological alteration. ELISA revealed that NAR regulated the production levels of gastrointestinal metabolic components, such as motilin (MTL), gastrin (Gas), endothelin (ET), substance P (SP), acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) in serum. The expression levels of enteric nerve-related factors, glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1), nitric oxide synthase (NOS), c-Kit, stem cell factor (SCF) and aquaporin 3 (AQP3) were examined by western blot analysis and RT-PCR analysis. The results of this study suggest that NAR relieves Lop-induced constipation by increasing the levels of interstitial cells of Cajal markers (c-Kit and SCF), as well as AQP3. Thus, NAR may be effective as a candidate in patients suffering from lifestyle-induced constipation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquaporin 3 / genetics*
  • Constipation / blood
  • Constipation / chemically induced
  • Constipation / drug therapy*
  • Constipation / genetics
  • Endothelins / blood
  • Flavanones / administration & dosage*
  • Gastrins / blood
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Interstitial Cells of Cajal / drug effects
  • Laxatives / administration & dosage
  • Loperamide / toxicity
  • Mice
  • Motilin / blood
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / genetics*
  • Stem Cell Factor / genetics*


  • Aqp3 protein, mouse
  • Endothelins
  • Flavanones
  • Gastrins
  • Laxatives
  • Stem Cell Factor
  • Aquaporin 3
  • Motilin
  • Loperamide
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • naringenin