Zhizhu Kuanzhong, a traditional Chinese medicine, alleviates gastric hypersensitivity and motor dysfunction on a rat model of functional dyspepsia
Ethnopharmacological relevance: Zhizhu Kuanzhong (ZZKZ) is a traditional Chinese medicine modified from classic formula Zhizhu decoction in “Synopsis of Golden Chamber” (Han Dynasty in the 3 rd century) and the Zhizhu pill in “Differentiation on Endogenous” in Jin Dynasty (1,115–1,234). ZZKZ contains four botanical drugs, including Citrus × Aurantium L [Rutaceae; Aurantii Fructus Immaturus ], Atractylodes Macrocephala Koidz. [Compositae; Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae ], Bupleurum Chinense DC [Apiaceae; Radix Bupleuri Chinensis ], and Crataegus Pinnatifida Bunge [Rosaceae; Fructus Crataegi Pinnatifidae ], which have been widely used in clinical therapy for functional dyspepsia (FD). Aim of the study: This study aimed to evaluate the pharmacological effects and mechanisms of action of ZZKZ on gastric hypersensitivity and motor dysfunction in a rat model of FD. Materials and methods: FD was induced in Sprague-Dawley rats by neonatal gastric irritation with 0.1% iodoacetamide. The FD rats were treated with ZZKZ (0.5 g/kg, 1.0 g/kg, or 1.5 g/kg respectively) by gavage for 7 days, while domperidone (3 mg/kg) acted as treatment control. Body weight gain, food intake, gastric emptying, and intestinal propulsion were also measured. Ex vivo gastric smooth muscle activity recordings and greater splanchnic afferent (GSN) firing recordings were employed to evaluate gastric motility and sensation. Particularly, the role of 5-HT in the action of ZZKZ in improving gastric dysmotility and hypersensitivity was explored. Results: ZZKZ promoted weight gain, food intake, gastric emptying, and intestinal propulsion in FD rats. ZZKZ promoted spontaneous and ACh-induced contractions of gastric smooth muscle strips in FD rats, alleviated spontaneous activity, and chemical (acid perfusion) and mechanical (intragastric distension) stimulated GSN firing in FD rats. ZZKZ ameliorated gastric smooth muscle contraction and GSN firing induced by 5-HT in FD rats. ZZKZ stimulated the release of serum 5-HT, with reduced 5-HT 3 receptor and increased 5-HT 4 receptor mRNA expression in the guts of FD rats. Conclusion: This study demonstrated that ZZKZ improves FD-related gastric hypersensitivity and motor dysfunction and should be an effective compound for relieving FD symptoms. The gastric 5-HT system with lower 5-HT 3 activity and increased 5-HT 4 distribution is involved in the mechanisms of ZZKZ underlying the treatment of FD.