Original Article

Vasorelaxant and antihypertensive effects of formononetin through endothelium-dependent and -independent mechanisms

Authors: Tao SUN, Rui LIU, Yong-xiao CAO
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2011.51


Aim: To investigate the mechanisms underlying the vasorelaxant effect of formononetin, an O-methylated isoflavone, in isolated arteries, and its antihypertensive activity in vivo.
Methods: Arterial rings of superior mesenteric arteries, renal arteries, cerebral basilar arteries, coronary arteries and abdominal aortas were prepared from SD rats. Isometric tension of the arterial rings was recorded using a myograph system. Arterial pressure was measured using tail-cuff method in spontaneously hypertensive rats.
Results: Formononetin (1–300 μmol/L) elicited relaxation in arteries of the five regions that were pre-contracted by KCl (60 mmol/L), U46619 (1 μmol/L) or phenylephrine (10 μmol/L). The formononetin-induced relaxation was reduced by removal of endothelium or by pretreatment with L-NAME (100 μmol/L). Under conditions of endothelium denudation, formononetin (10, 30, and 100 μmol/L) inhibited the contraction induced by KCl and that induced by CaCl2 in Ca2+-free depolarized medium. In the absence of extracellular Ca2+, formononetin (10, 30, and 100 μmol/L) depressed the constriction caused by phenylephrine (10 μmol/L), but did not inhibit the tonic contraction in response to the addition of CaCl2 (2 mmol/L). The contraction caused by caffeine (30 mmol/L) was not inhibited by formononetin (100 μmol/L). Formononetin (10 and 100 μmol/L) reduced the change rate of Ca2+-fluorescence intensity in response to KCl (50 mmol/L). In spontaneously hypertensive rats, formononetin (5, 10, and 20 mg/kg) slowly lowered the systolic, diastolic and mean arterial pressure.
Conclusion: Formononetin causes vasodilatation via two pathways: (1) endothelium-independent pathway, probably due to inhibition of voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels and intracellular Ca2+ release; and (2) endothelium-dependent pathway by releasing NO. Both the pathways may contribute to its antihypertensive effect.

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