Antihypertensive effects of allicin on spontaneously hypertensive rats via vasorelaxation and hydrogen sulfide mechanisms

Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Aug;128:110240. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110240. Epub 2020 May 29.


Background: Allicin, the principle active constituent in garlic, has been reported to have antihypertensive effects on drug-induced hypertension or renal hypertension in rats, but reports on spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) are rare. Allicin is comprised of a variety of sulfur-containing compounds, and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has been shown to have specific vasomotor effects. We therefore hypothesize that allicin may exert a vasorelaxant activity by inducing H2S production, and this eventually result in a reduction in blood pressure in SHRs.

Methods: The in vivo antihypertensive effect of allicin was assessed using a tail-cuff method on SHRs. The in vitro vasorelaxant effect and in-depth mechanisms of allicin were explored on rat mesenteric arterial rings (RMARs) isolated from SD rats.

Results: In the in vivo study, administration of allicin (7 mg/kg and 14 mg/kg, 4 weeks, i.g) dramatically decreased the blood pressure in SHRs, which was also shown to be attenuated by H2S synthase inhibitor (PAG, 32 mg/kg, i.g). In in vitro studies, allicin (2.50-15.77 mM) produced a concentration-dependent vasorelaxation on RMARs, which was obviously reduced by preincubation with PAG. The removal of endothelium led to a decline in allicin's vasorelaxation, which was almost completely mitigated when treatment was followed with PAG. Inhibitors of nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin (PGI2) pathways separately suppressed the vasorelaxation induced by allicin to a certain degree. When the RMARs incubated with PAG were treated with or without the above inhibitors in separate groups, the relaxations caused by allicin were almost identical under both these conditions. Moreover, allicin treatment increased cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels (downstream products of NO and PGI2 pathways), which was decreased by PAG. Additionally, allicin increased the acetylcholine-induced endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF) -mediated relaxation, which was unaffected by PAG.

Conclusion: Allicin exhibits a potent antihypertensive effect through vasodilatory properties and H2S mechanisms. Moreover, the vasodilation of allicin is partially dependent on endothelium. The endothelium-dependent vasodilation of allicin is mediated by the NO-sGC-cGMP, PGI2-AC-cAMP and EDHF pathways, of which H2S participates in the first two but not the third one. The endothelium independent vasodilation can be predominantly attributed to H2S production.

Keywords: Allicin; Garlic; Hydrogen sulfide; Spontaneously hypertensive rats; Vasorelaxation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Arterial Pressure / drug effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disulfides
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / metabolism*
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension / metabolism
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mesenteric Arteries / drug effects*
  • Mesenteric Arteries / metabolism
  • Mesenteric Arteries / physiopathology
  • Rats, Inbred SHR
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sulfinic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Vasodilation / drug effects*
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacology*


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Disulfides
  • Sulfinic Acids
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • allicin
  • Hydrogen Sulfide