Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)

trans-Caryophyllene, a natural sesquiterpene, causes tracheal smooth muscle relaxation through blockade of voltage-dependent Ca²⁺ channels.

PMID 23060288


trans-Caryophyllene is a major component in the essential oils of various species of medicinal plants used in popular medicine in Brazil. It belongs to the chemical class of the sesquiterpenes and has been the subject of a number of studies. Here, we evaluated the effects of this compound in airway smooth muscle. The biological activities of trans-caryophyllene were examined in isolated bath organs to investigate the effect in basal tonus. Electromechanical and pharmacomechanical couplings were evaluated through the responses to K⁺ depolarization and exposure to acetylcholine (ACh), respectively. Isolated cells of rat tracheal smooth muscle were used to investigate trans-caryophyllene effects on voltage-dependent Ca²⁺ channels by using the whole-cell voltage-clamp configuration of the patch-clamp technique. trans-Caryophyllene showed more efficiency in the blockade of electromechanical excitation-contraction coupling while it has only minor inhibitory effect on pharmacomechanical coupling. Epithelium removal does not modify tracheal smooth muscle response elicited by trans-caryophyllene in the pharmacomechanical coupling. Under Ca²⁺-free conditions, pre-exposure to trans-caryophyllene did not reduce the contraction induced by ACh in isolated rat tracheal smooth muscle, regardless of the presence of intact epithelium. In the whole-cell configuration, trans-caryophyllene (3 mM), inhibited the inward Ba²⁺ current (I(Ba)) to approximately 50% of control levels. Altogether, our results demonstrate that trans-caryophyllene has anti-spasmodic activity on rat tracheal smooth muscle which could be explained, at least in part, by the voltage-dependent Ca²⁺ channels blockade.