Emodin is traditionally used as a laxative and is found to increase or decrease the contractility of intestinal smooth muscle in low doses and high doses, respectively. In this study, we propose that bidirectional regulation (BR) on the contractility of jejunal smooth muscle (CJSM)
is inducible by emodin in the absence of control by the central nervous system. The results indicated that emodin-induced BR had the following characteristics. A stimulatory effect on CJSM was induced by emodin at 7 low contractile states, and an inhibitory effect was induced on CJSM at 7
high contractile states. Emodin-induced BR on myosin phosphorylation was also observed. BR was not observed in the presence of tetrodotoxin, suggesting that enteric nervous system is required for producing BR. The stimulatory effect of emodin on CJSM was abolished by atropine and diphenhydramine,
respectively, suggesting that BR was correlated with cholinergic and histamine system while jejunal smooth muscle was at low contractile state. The inhibitory effect of emodin on CJSM was abolished by phentolamine, propranolol, and L-NG-nitroarginine (L-NNA), respectively, suggesting that
BR was related to adrenergic hyperactivity and with a nitric oxide relaxing mechanism while jejunal smooth muscle was in a high contractile state. The exact mechanism, however, needs further investigation.
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