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Context: Calotropis procera (Ait.) R.Br. (Asclepiadaceae) is a shrub or small tree that grows wild in Egypt. Calotropis acts as a purgative, anthelmintic, anticoagulant, palliative (in problems with respiration, blood pressure), antipyretic, and analgesic, and induces neuromuscular blocking activity. Little research has been done to study the electrophysiological effects of this plant's extracts on cardiac, smooth, and skeletal muscle activities. Objective: The present study was conducted to determine the phytochemical composition and the effect of the total alcohol extract of the shoot of the plant, which contains almost all of C. procera's cardiac glycosides, flavonoids, and saponins. Also, this study attempted to throw more light on the electrophysiological effects of the plant extracts on cardiac, smooth, and skeletal muscle activities and to clarify the mechanism(s) of their observed action(s). Materials and methods: The aerial parts of the plant were air dried and their ethanol extracts partitioned with successive solvents. Cardiac, smooth, and skeletal muscles were used in this study to investigate the physiological and pharmacological effects of the plant extracts from different solvents. The data were analyzed by paired t-test. Results: The phytochemical investigation of Calotropis procera revealed the presence of cardenolides, flavonoids, and saponins. The effects of ethanol, n-butanol, and ethyl acetate (EtOAc) extracts were each evaluated on isolated toad heart and their mechanisms of action determined. Perfusion with 2 mug/mL ethanol, 0.2 mug/mL butanol, and 0.2 mug/mL EtOAc extracts caused a significant decrease in heart rate (bradycardia), significant increase in the force of ventricular contraction, and increase in T-wave amplitude. In addition, the effects of different extracts of the studied plant on smooth muscle and skeletal muscle were investigated in this study. The different extracts and latex of C. procera induced a negative chronotropic effect and decreased the heart rate (HR) of isolated toad heart. The different extracts increased the power of contraction of the duodenum (trace a). Pretreatment with atropine sulfate as a muscarinic receptor blocker abolished the stimulatory effect of the different plant extracts and latex of C. procera (trace b). Discussion: The present data suggest that ethanol, butanol, and EtOAc extracts of Calotropis procera have negative chronotropism and positive inotropism. Verapamil could abolish the inotropic effect of ethanol as well as that of butanol and EtOAc extracts. Meanwhile, atropine did not abolish the observed negative chronotropic effect. The ethanol extract increased the power of contraction of rabbit duodenum, but atropine abolished this effect. It also decreased the skeletal muscle contraction; this effect could be through blocking of the nicotinic receptors. Butanol and EtOAc extract data for smooth and skeletal muscles are very close to those for the corresponding ethanol extract of the studied plant. The present data for C. procera indicate its direct action on the myocardium, its increase of smooth muscle motility, and its relaxation of skeletal muscle contraction. The chemical constituents could directly affect the cell membrane probably through receptors coupling to G proteins. They regulate the ion channel physiology as in the myocardium. Conclusion: The present data on the extracts of C. procera indicate a direct action on the myocardium, stimulatory effect on smooth muscle motility, and relaxant action on skeletal muscle contraction. Chemical constituents could directly affect the cell membrane probably through receptors coupling to G proteins. They regulate the ion channel physiology as in the myocardium.
Chemistry Department, Faculty of Science, Suez Canal University, Port Said, Egypt.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Pharmaceutical biology
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