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Regulative effects of essential oil from Atractylodes lancea on delayed gastric emptying in stress-induced rats.

Abstract

Gastric motor dysfunction induced by psychological stress results in many symptoms of functional dyspepsia (FD). There are a number of herbal medicines that are reported to improve gastrointestinal motor. However, the mechanisms of considerable herbal medicines are not explicit. In the present study, the effects of an essential oil (EO) extracted from Atractylodes lancea on delayed gastric emptying, gastrointestinal hormone and hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) abnormalities induced by restraint stress in rats were investigated and the mechanism of the EO is also explored.

Oral administration of EO for 7 days did not affect normal gastric emptying, but accelerated delayed gastric emptying induced by restraint stress in rats. The EO significantly increased the levels of motilin (MTL) and gastrin (GAS) and decreased the levels of somatostatin (SS) and CRF. The EO did not modify gastric emptying in vagotomized rats that underwent restraint stress, but antagonized delayed gastric emptying induced by intracisternal injection of CRF. These results suggest that the regulative effects of the EO on delayed gastric emptying are preformed mainly via inhibition of the release of central CRF and activation of vagal pathway, which are also involved in the release of gastrointestinal hormones such as MTL, GAS and SS.

[C] 2008 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Essential oil; Atractylodes lancea; Restraint stress; Gastric emptying; Gastrointestinal hormone; Corticotropin-releasing factor

Introduction

Functional gastrointestinal disorders, especially functional dyspepsia (FD), have been shown to be associated with psychological and psychiatric disturbance (Feinle-Bisset and Andrews, 2003; Holtmann et al., 2004). It has been demonstrated that psychological stimulation elicits delayed gastric emptying, circulating gastrointestinal hormone abnormalities (Guo et al., 2001; Liu et al., 204; Zou et al., 2004). Herbal remedies have been used, apparently safely and effectively, in Asian countries, especially in China, Japan and Korea, to alleviate various symptoms of dyspepsia. There are a number of herbal medicines that have been characterized for their improving effects on gastrointestinal motor function, such as Rhizoma Atractylodis, Semen Arecae, Rhizoma Curcumae, Fructus Aurantii immaturi and so on (Wei et al., 2004). However, the mechanisms of considerable herbal medicines are not explicit.

Rhizoma Atractylodis (RA) has been used as a treatment for various diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and for its effects of invigorating the spleen and eliminating dampness, expelling wind, damp and cold. RA, the rhizome of Atractylodes lancea (Thunb.) DC. (Composite), contains up to 9% essential oil (EO), which, an effective fraction of RA, is mainly composed of [beta]-eudesmol, [beta]-selinene and hinesol (Ji et al., 2001; Dian et al., 2004). [beta]-Eudesmol significantly promotes gastrointestinal motility in mice (Wang et al., 2002). Until now, as far as we are aware, there have been no reports on the regulative effects of EO from RA on delayed gastric emptying, gastrointestinal hormone and corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) abnormalities induced by restraint stress stimulation in animals and on the mechanism of action of the EO.

The present study was designed to investigate whether the EO extracted from RA affects delayed gastric emptying induced by restraint stress in rats and to assess the mechanism of action of the EO using pharmacological and surgical approaches. We also examined whether the EO mediating restraint stress-induced delay of gastric emptying is involved in gastrointestinal hormones.

Materials and methods

Preparation of EO from RA

RA was purchased from Shanghai Tong-ren-tang Pharmaceutical Group, and identified as the rhizome of Atractylodes lancea (Thunb.) DC. by Professor H.-C. Zheng (The School of Pharmacy, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China). The EO was extracted by the use of hydrodistillation. The dried rhizomes were broken into small segments, 1 kg of which were immersed in 81 distilled water and boiled in a distillation apparatus for 8 h. The yield of EO was 7.6% (v/w) and it was stored at + 4[degrees]C until utilized.

GC-MS analysis

GC-MS was performed with an Agilent 5890 gas chromatography instrument coupled to an Agilent 5972 mass spectrometer and an Agilent ChemStation software (Agilent Technologies, Palo Alto, CA, USA). Compounds were separated on a 30m X 0.25 mm i.d. capillary column coated with a 0.25 [micro]m film of 5% phenyl methyl siloxane. The column temperature program began at 50 [degrees]C and was held for 3 min, increased at a rate of 3[degrees] C [min.sup.-1] to 100[degrees] C and held for 10 min, and then increased at a rate of 5[degrees]C [min.sup.1] to 240[degrees]C and held for 30 min. Split injection (2 [mu]l) was conducted with a split ratio of 1:30 and helium was used as carrier gas at a flow rate of l.lml[min.sup.-1]. The spectrometers were operated in electron-impact (EI) mode and the ionization energy was 70 eV. The inlet, ionization source temperatures were 280 and 180 [degrees]C, respectively. The GC-MS analysis showed that the main components of the EO were [beta]-eudesmol, atractylodin, [beta]-selinene, [alpha]-phellandrene and hinesol, having a relative content 34.15%, 17.19%, 7.59%, 6.42% and 4.32% (w/w), respectively.

Animals

Male Wistar rats weighting 220-250 g were obtained from the Experimental Animal Center of the Second Military Medical University (Shanghai, China). They were housed in a regulated environment (20 [+ or -] 1[degrees] C), with a 12-h light/dark cycle (lights on: 08:00-20:00 h). Food and water were given ad libitum, except for the duration of the experimental period. All animal treatments were strictly in accordance with international ethical guidelines and the National Institutes of Health Guide concerning the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and the experiments were carried out with the approval of the Committee of Experimental Animal Administration of the University.

In the experiment on the effects of EO on gastric emptying in normal animals, 40 rats were randomly divided into four groups (n = 10): three EO treatment groups (30, 60, 120 mg [kg.sup.-1] per day) and one normal group (vehicle per day). In the experiments on the effects of EO on gastric emptying, gastrointestinal hormones and CRF in rats subjected to restraint stress, 40 model rats were randomly divided into four groups (n = 10): three EO treatment groups (30, 60, 120 mg [kg.sup.-1] per day) and one control group (vehicle per day). Another ten subjects served as the normal group (vehicle per day). In the experiment on the effects of EO on gastric emptying in rats subjected to vagotomy surgery, 40 rats were randomly divided into four groups (n = 10), i.e. two sham-operated groups (vehicle per day), one vagotomy group (vehicle per day) and one EO treatment group (vehicle per day) and one EO treatment group (120 mg [kg.sup.-1] per day). One of the sham-operated groups served as the negative group. In the experiment on the effects of EO on gastric emptying in rats with intracisternal injection of CRF, 30 rats were randomly divided into three groups (n = 10), i.e. control group (vehicle per day), vagotomy group (vehicle per day) and EO treatment group (120 mg [kg.sup.-1] per day) and EO treatment group (120 mg [kg.sup.-1] per day). Another ten rats served as the normal group (Vehicle per day).

Administration of EO from RA

The EO was dissolved in 3% Tween-80 and distilled water before administration. The treatment groups of animals (n = 10) were orally administered EO (30, 60 and 120 mg [kg.sup.-1] per day) by intubation for 7 days. Other groups of animals were orally administered vehicle (3% Tween-80), and they were run concurrently with EO-treated groups. EO and vehicle were given in a volume of 10 ml [kg.sup.-1] irrespective of dose. The rats were fasted for 18 h but given water ad libitum before determination.

Rats that underwent restraint stress

The method has been described by previous studies (Iwa et al., 2006; Nakade et al., 2005). In brief, the rats were restrained in cylindrical, well-ventilated and stainless steel tubes (60 mm in diameter and 150 mm in length) for 90 min. After the restraint stress loading, the rats were administered EO or vehicle (once a day), this status lasting 7 days.

Gastric emptying test

The method described by previous studies (Scarpignato et al., 1980; Gondim et al., 2001) to examine the emptying of methyl cellulose (MC) test meals was used. Methyl cellulose (1.5g/100ml) was dispersed in water with continuous stirring and phenol red (PR, 50mg/100ml) was added as a non-absorbable dilution marker. A volume of 1.5ml of MC was given by intubation. Gastric emptying was determined 20 min after the administration of the test meal. In each experiment, another ten rats as control were also killed immediately after administration of the meal at zero time. After decapitation, stomachs were clamped at the pylorus and cardia and removed. The stomachs were homogenized in 100ml of 0.1 M NaOH. The suspension was allowed to settle for 60 min at room temperature, and 5ml of supernatant was added to 0.5ml of trichloroacetic acid (20% w/v). After centrifugation at 3000 rpm for 10 min, 1 ml of supernatant was added to 4ml of 0.5 M NaOH, and absorbance of the sample was determined at 560nm with a type 756 spectrophotometer. Gastric emptying was calculated according to the formula.

% gastric emptying = 1-amount of PR recovered from test stomach/average amount of PR recovered from standard stomachs x 100

Gastronitestinal hormone assays

Sixty minutes after the last treatment the rats were decapitated on by one in a separate room to avoid unspecific stress responses. Trunk blood (4ml) was collected in ice-chilled tubes containing both 60 [micro]l of ethylenedimaine tetraacetic acid (EDTA, 10% w/v) and 60 [micro]l of aprotinin. Plasma was separated from whole blood in a refrigerated centrifuge (4 [degrees]C; 3000 revolutions per minute for 10 min). Further, 1 ml of trunk blood was collected in one tube to settle for 60 min. Serum was separated from whole blood in a centrifuge (3000 revolutions per minute for 10 min). The samples were stored at-20 [degrees]C until analysis. Gastrointestinal hormone concentrations, including motilin (MTL), gastrin (GAS), somatostatin (SS) and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) were determined with commercially available radioimmunoassay (RIA) kits. For the assay procedures see El-Salhya et al. (2000) and Tomita et al. (2003).

Corticotropin-releasing factor assays

Sixty minutes after the last treatment male rats were decapitated one by one in a separate room to avoid unspecific stress responses. The methods of hypothalamic dissection and CRF radioimmunoassay have been described elsewhere (Bingaman et al., 1994; Makino et al., 1999). The brains were quickly removed and placed on ice and hypothalamus was dissected out. The tissue samples were homogenized in 1ml of 2N acetic acid, boiled for 3 min and centrifuged for 20 min at 3000 revolutions per minute. The supernatants were transferred to other tubes and then lyophilized and stored at -70 [degrees]C until assay.

Active CRF in the lyophilized tissue sample was measured by a radioimmunoassay using anti-CRF serum (UCB SA, Belgium) and 125I-CRH (Amersham Biosciences, USA). The lyophilized samples were reconstituted in 1 ml of assay buffer (0.1 M phosphate buffer containing 0.14 M NaCl, 0.1% bovine serum albumin, 0.05% Tween 20, 0.01% Na[N.sub.3]; pH 7.4), and all samples were analyzed twice in the same radioimmunoassay run.

The anti-CRF serum recognized the C-terminal portion of human/rat CRF. Samples were incubated at 4[degrees]C for 24h with 100 [micro]1 anti-CRF serum at a dilution of 1:3 x [10.sup.5]. Approximately [10.sup.4] c.p.m. of rat/human 125 I-CRF was added in a volume of 100 [micro]1 radioimmunoassay buffer to each tube and incubated for an additional 24h. Thereafter, 150 [micro]1 goat anti-rabbit gamma globulin was added and incubated for 24h. The precipitates were collected by centrifugation at-4000 revolutions per minute for 20 min. The supernatants were removed by aspiration and the pellet counted for 2 min each in a gamma counter.

Vagotomy surgery

Vagotomy surgery was performed in rats deprived of food for 12h following a previously described procedure (Tache et al., 1987). To transect the trunks of the subdiaphragmatic vagal nerves, rats were anesthetized by an intraperitoneal injection of sodium pentobarbital (40 mg [kg.sup.-1]). A left subcostal incision was made, and the dorsal and ventral branches of the vagal nerves were dissected from the esophagus just under the diaphragm. Each branch of the nerve was tied with surgical sutures at two points and then cauterized between the sutures. Sham operations were also performed in which each trunk of the nerve was exposed but not tied or cauterized. After 24h, the rats were subjected to restraint stress and orally administered EO or vehicle, this status lasting 7 days.

Rats injected with CRF

CRF (Sigma Chemical Company, USA) was kept in powder form at -70 [degrees]C, which was dissolved in physiological saline immediately before use. Rats were given EO or vehicle for 7 days. Under a light anesthesia of isoflurane (4%), rats were placed in a stereotaxic apparatus (Angle model 51603; Pusheng Company, China) 60 min after the last treatment. CRF (1 [micro]g/rat) or physiological saline was injected intracisternally (10 [micro]1/rat) by puncture of the occipital membrane with a microsyringe (Angle model 53310; Pusheng Company, China). The presence of cerebrospinal fluid in the syringe on aspiration before injection certified the accuracy of needle placement in the cisterna magna, as previously described (Nakade et al., 2002).

Statistical analysis

The data were analyzed using an SPSS 11.0 statistical package. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Tukey-Kramer multiple comparison tests were used to evaluate the level of statistical significance. p < 0.05 was considered statistically significant and all results are presented as the mean [+ or -] s.e.

Results

Effects of EO on gastric emptying in normal rats

The gastric emptying of methyl cellulose administered by intubation in fasted rats was studied. The essential oil at dosages studied did not significantly influence emptying of methyl cellulose (Fig. 1).

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Effects of EO on gastric emptying in rats that underwent restraint stress

Stimulation of restraint stress for 7 days significantly delayed gastric emptying in rats when compared to that of normal rats (Fig. 2). However, in restraint stress-treated rats treated by EO for 7 days, the inhibition of gastric emptying was manifestly improved compared to that of control rats given vehicle.

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

Effects of EO on motilin (MTL), gastrin (GAS), somatostatin (SS) and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) levels in rats that underwent restraint stress

In the control group consisting of rats that underwent restraint stress, the levels of plasma MTL and serum GAS were significantly decreased, while plasma levels of SS and VIP markedly increased when compared to those observed in the rats in the normal group (Fig. 3). When the restraint stress-treated rats were given EO at dosages observed for 7 days, the levels of MTL and GAS were significantly increased, while SS levels evidently decreased when compared to those observed in the rats in the control group, this difference being statistically significant. Although there was some improvement, the EO did not significantly decrease the plasma levels of VIP in rats subjected to restraint stress when compared to the values observed in the control group.

Effects of EO on CRF levels in rats that underwent restraint stress

In the control group consisting of restraint stress-induced rats, the CRF levels evidently increased compared to those observed in the rats in the normal group (Fig. 4). When the model rats were given essential oil at dosages of 60, 120 mg [kg.sup.-1] for 7 days, there were significant decreases at the CRF levels compared to the values observed in the control group.

[FIGURE 4 OMITTED]

Effects of EO on gastric emptying in vagotomized rats that underwent restraint stress

Restraint stress significantly delayed gastric emptying in sham-operated rats, compared to negative group (Fig. 5). In contrast, gastric emptying in rats that underwent vagotomy surgery was not evidently inhibited by restraint stress. The effects of EO on gastric emptying were not examined in vagotomized rats that underwent restraint stress.

[FIGURE 5 OMITTED]

Effects of EO on gastric emptying in rats injected with CRF

Intracisternal injection of CRF (1 [micro]g) did not delay gastric emptying in vagotomized rats, but significantly inhibited gastric emptying in non-vagotomized rats, compared to normal group (Fig. 6). After administration of EO for 7 days, delayed gastric emptying induced by CRF in rats was evidently improved, compared to control group.

[FIGURE 6 OMITTED]

Discussion

Patients with functional dyspepsia (FD) often display more psychological distress, somatization, anxiety and depression than healthy subjects (Richter, 1991; Jonsson et al., 1995; Lee et al., 2000). On the other hand, stress and various psychological symptoms affect the results of gastric motility and emptying in FD patients (Whitehead, 1996). Various stressors have also been shown to inhibit antral motility and delay gastric emptying in animals (Mistiaen et al., 2002; Tsukada et al., 2003; Martinez et al., 2004; Nakade et al., 2005). Mental stimulation plays an important role in production of many FD symptoms. In the present study, it was observed that after stimulation of restraint stress loading for 7 days the male rats had a significantly delayed gastric emptying, which is compatible with previous studies (Iwa et al., 2006; Nakade et al., 2005; Tache et al., 1987).

The findings of this study showed that the EO extracted from RA had a selective effect on the gastric emptying of a liquid test meal in normal or stimulated rats. The substance of non-nutritive, non-noxious such as methyl cellulose did not alter gastric emptying. The EO did not accelerate gastric emptying in normal rats; however, at all three dosages used for 7 days the EO significantly improved delayed gastric emptying induced by restraint stress in rats. These results seem to show that the EO has no effect on a normal gastric emptying function, but significantly regulate an abnormal gastric emptying.

Delayed gastric emptying is often accompanied by some alterations in the gastrointestinal hormone systems of humans and other mammals. To investigate whether the EO affects gastrointestinal hormones of delayed gastric emptying, we further observed the effects of the EO on the levels of circulating MTL, SS, VIP and GAS in rats subjected to restraint stress stimulation.

MTL is a 22-amino acid gastrointestinal peptide able to stimulate gastrointestinal motor activity and to accelerate gastric emptying. The main biological actions of GAS are the stimulation of gastric acid secretion, mucosal blood flow and parietal cell growth. Secretion of GAS is controlled by the interaction of many chemical and nervous factors. In this work, the rats that underwent restraint stress for 7 days had a significant decrease at the levels of plasma MTL and serum GAS. However, after given EO for 7 days the rats subjected to restraint stress had a marked increase at the levels of MTL and GAS. These results show that the effects of EO on delayed gastric emptying are related to increases of the levels of MTL and GAS.

Several studies have shown a possible influence of a local decrease in gastric somatostatin (SS) in the physiopathologic characteristic of functional dyspepsia disease. Somatostatin strongly inhibits secretion of a number of hormones such as gastrin, motilin, cholecystokinin, insulin and glucagon (Zavros et al., 1998). It has been demonstrated that plasma somatostatin levels in patients with FD manifestly increase when compared to healthy subjects (Jonsson et al., 1998; Wang et al., 2001; Zhao et al., 2004). Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) is a 28-amino acid neuropeptide with a broad range of biologic activities. VIP can relax smooth muscle of the gastrointestinal tract and inhibit gastrointestinal motility. The present results showed that the rats that underwent restraint stress had an evident increase at the levels of SS and VIP, but the treatment of rats given EO for 7 days induced a marked and dose-dependent decrease at the levels of SS. On the other hand, the EO seems not to decrease the levels of VIP.

Our study shows that the oral administration of EO accelerates delayed gastric emptying in rats, causing significant increases in the levels of MTL and GAS and decreases in the levels of SS in blood circulation. But the EO does not accelerate normal gastric emptying in rats. These findings seem to demonstrate that the EO does not accelerate delayed gastric emptying directly via stimulating the secretion of MTL and GAS and inhibiting the secretion of SS in secretory cells in the gastrointestinal tract.

Many experimental studies have demonstrated that gastric emptying is inhibited by stress in rodents. It has been suggested that CRF plays a central role in restraint stress-related alterations of gastric function (Iwa et al., 2006; Nakade et al., 2005; Tache et al., 1987).

In the preliminary examination, it was also observed that the EO given less than 3 days did not significantly improve the delayed gastric emptying induced by restraint stress in rats. This result seems to suggest that the regulative effects of EO are related to central CRF levels.

CRF, the 41-amino acid peptide produced in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), is the principal neuropeptide in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and released during stress (Plotsky and Vale, 1984). Intracisternal injection of CRF delays gastric emptying (Martinez and Tache, 2001; Nakade et al., 2005; Martinez et al., 1997). Restraint stress increases CRF mRNA in PVN and amygdale (Kalin et al., 1994). These findings suggest that endogenous CRF plays an important role in mediating restraint stress-induced inhibition of gastric emptying. Therefore we further investigated the changes of hypothalamic CRF levels in rats with delayed gastric emptying induced by restraint stress. Consistent with previous reports, hypothalamic CRF levels in the rats were significantly increased. However, the administration of EO at dosages of 120 and 60 mg k[g.sup.-1] for 7 days evidently decreased the levels of hypothalamic CRF.

Gastrointestinal hormones are regulated by the autonomic nervous system, the vagal nerve in particular. The vagal nerve exerts both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on the release of the gastrointestinal hormones (Uvnas-Moberg, 1983; Siaud et al., 1990). The vagal nerve has been identified as the main pathway mediating the delayed gastric emptying and inhibition of gastric motility induced by central injection of CRF in rats (Tache et al., 1987; Monnikes et al., 1992; Lee and Sarna, 1997; Lewis et al., 2002). Restraint stress delays gastric emptying via central CRF and vagal pathway (Iwa et al., 2006; Nakade et al., 2005; Tache et al., 1987). To investigate whether the EO improves delayed gastric emptying induced by restraint stress via decrease of release of central CRF and vagal pathway, we observed the effects of EO on gastric emptying in rats that underwent vagotomy surgery or intracisternally injected with CRF.

The results of the study showed that restraint stress significantly delayed gastric emptying in sham-operated rats. However, the gastric emptying in vagotomized rats was not evidently inhibited by restraint stress. It is demonstrated that restraint stress inhibits gastric emptying via a vagal pathway, as previously reported (Iwaet al., 2006; Nakade et al., 2005; Tache et al., 1987). The EO did not modify gastric emptying in vagotomized rats that underwent restraint stress.

Intracisternal injection of CRF did not inhibit gastric emptying in vagotomized rats, but significantly inhibited gastric emptying in non-vagotomized rats. However, the EO evidently improved delayed gastric emptying induced by intracisternal injection of CRF in non-vagotomized rats. These results demonstrate that CRF-induced inhibition of gastric emptying can be antagonized by the EO, that is, the EO improves restraint stress-induced inhibition of gastric emptying mainly via central corticotropin-releasing factor in rats.

Conclusion

In summary, the present study indicates that EO has no effect on gastric emptying in normal or vagotomized rats, but antagonizes CRF- and restraint stress-induced inhibition of gastric emptying. The regulative effects are preformed mainly via inhibition of the release of central CRF and activation of vagal pathway, which are also involved in the release of gastrointestinal hormones such as MTL, GAS and SS. Although this is an animal-based study, it is proposed that EO extracted from RA might be effective in the improvement of delayed gastric emptying in patients with functional dyspepsia induced by mental stress.

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Hong Zhang, Ting Han, Lian-Na Sun, Bao-Kang Huang, Yu-Feng Chen, Han-Chen Zheng, Lu-Ping Qin *

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* Corresponding author. Tel./fax: +8621 25070394.

Department of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai 200433. People's Republic of China

E-mail addresses: lpqin@smmu.edu.cn, huihong01@126.com (L.-P. Qin).
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Author:Zhang, Hong; Han, Ting; Sun, Lian-Na; Huang, Bao-Kang; Chen, Yu-Feng; Zheng, Han-Chen; Qin, Lu-Ping
Publication:Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy & Phytopharmacology
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Aug 1, 2008
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