Journal of ethnopharmacology

Effects of San-Huang-Xie-Xin-tang, a traditional Chinese prescription for clearing away heat and toxin, on the pacemaker activities of interstitial cells of Cajal from the murine small intestine.

PMID 24953035


San-Huang-Xie-Xin-Tang (SHXXT) is a traditional Chinese medicinal formula composed of Coptidis rhizoma (Coptis chinesis Franch), Scutellariae radix (Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi), and Rhei rhizoma (Rheum officinale Baill) and is widely used in Eastern Asia, especially to ameliorate the symptoms of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders related to gastritis, gastric bleeding, peptic ulcers, and abnormal GI motility Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs) are pacemaker cells in the GI tract that generate rhythmic oscillations in membrane potentials known as slow waves. Because GI disorders, especially abnormal GI motility, are major lifelong problems, the authors investigated the effects of SHXXT on mouse small intestine ICCs, and sought to identify the receptors and the action mechanisms involved. Enzymatic digestions were used to dissociate ICCs from small intestines, and the whole-cell patch-clamp configuration was used to record potentials generated by cultured ICCs. SHXXT produced membrane depolarization in current-clamp mode, and Y25130 (a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist) and RS39604 (a 5-HT4 receptor antagonist) blocked SHXXT-induced membrane depolarizations, whereas SB269970 (a 5-HT7 receptor antagonist) did not. However, during external Ca2+ free conditions or in the presence of thapsigargin, SHXXT did not exhibit membrane depolarization. Furthermore, the application of flufenamic acid (a nonselective cation channel (NSCC) blocker) or DIDS (a chloride channel blocker) abolished pacemaker potential generation and blocked SHXXT-induced membrane depolarizations. In addition, SHXXT-induced membrane depolarizations, which are dependent on G-protein, in ICCs were blocked by PD 98059 (a p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitor), SB203580 (a p38 MAPK inhibitor), and by a c-jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) II inhibitor. Regarding the components of SHXXT, Coptidis rhizome and Rhei rhizoma modulated ICC pacemaking activity, whereas Scutellariae radix did not. SHXXT modulates pacemaker potentials via 5-HT3 and 5-HT4 receptor-mediated pathways, external Ca2+ influx, and Ca2+ release from internal stores. Furthermore, NSCCs and Cl- channels play important roles in the regulation of pacemaking activity in a MAPK dependent manner in ICCs. The regulation of pacemaking activity by SHXXT may be due to the activity of Coptidis rhizome and Rhei rhizome. The study shows SHXXT can modulate the pacemaking activity of ICCs in the GI tract, and thus, suggests SHXXT has potential pharmacological relevance for the treatment of GI motility disorders.