Original Article

Identification of higenamine in Radix Aconiti Lateralis Preparata as a beta2-adrenergic receptor agonist

Gang Bai, Yang Yang, Qian Shi, Ze Liu, Qi Zhang, Yuan-yuan Zhu


Aim: To screen beta2-adrenergic receptor (β2-AR) agonists from Radix Aconiti Lateralis Preparata (RALP) as potential drug leads for asthma using a sensitive cell-based agonist assay.
Methods: The β2-AR gene was stably expressed by Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells also stably expressing a cyclic adenosine monophosphate (AMP) response element-linked enhanced green fluorescent protein reporter gene. The cells were used to screen agonists from high-performance liquid chromatographic fractions of an extract of RALP. The fraction with the highest activity was selected for further compound isolation and the study of the structure-activity relationship. Its active compound was further identified by chromatography and mass spectrometry.
Results: Bioactivity-directed fraction-ation of the crude extract of RALP led to the isolation and characterization of the effective compound, namely hignamine. It could dose-dependently relax the isolated guinea pig trachea strip precontraction with acetylcholine with EC50 value of (2.60±0.36) × 10−5 mol/L. Further in vivo studies also displayed that hignamine could protect experimental asthma model induced by histamine in guinea pigs to prolong the latent periods of asthma.
Conclusion: Hignamine, as a β2-AR agonist existing in the extract of RALP, is the key compound contributing to the successful relief of the bronchoconstriction.