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Many of the traditional herbal formulations contain extracts of Piper longum and Glycyrrhiza glabra, piperine and glycyrrhetinic acid respectively, being active constituents of these two herbs. An attempt has been made to develop a simple, precise, rapid, and cost-effective high-performance thin-layer chromatographic (HPTLC) method for simultaneous estimation of these in a herbomineral formulation (Efiplus® Capsules). Precoated silica gel 60 F254 plates with toluene-ethyl acetate-glacial acetic acid 12.5:7.5:0.5, as mobile phase were used in chromatographic determinations. The plates were scanned and the compounds were quantified at their wavelengths of maximum absorption of 260 and 331 nm for glycyrrhetinic acid and piperine respectively. The respective RF, values of glycyrrhetinic acid and piperine were 0.51 and 0.55. Under these experimental conditions linearity was observed between 0.8-2.6 μg/ spot for glycyrrhetinic acid and between 10-50 ng/ spot for piperine and average recovery was 96.25% for glycyrrhetinic acid and 98.55% for piperine.
PMCID: PMC3255427  PMID: 22247845
HPTLC; glycyrrhetinic acid; piperine; herbomineral formulation
2.  Modulation by glycyrrhetinic acid derivatives of TPA-induced mouse ear oedema. 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1989;96(1):204-210.
1. The anti-inflammatory effects of glycyrrhetinic acid and its derivatives on TPA (12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate)-induced mouse ear oedema were studied. The mechanisms of TPA-induced ear oedema were first investigated with respect to the chemical mediators. 2. The formation of ear oedema reached a maximum 5 h after TPA application (2 micrograms per ear) and the prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production of mouse ear increased with the oedema formation. 3. TPA-induced ear oedema was prevented by actinomycin D and cycloheximide (0.1 mg per ear, respectively) when applied during 60 min after TPA treatment. 4. Of glycyrrhetinic acid derivatives examined, dihemiphthalate derivatives (IIe, IIe', IIIa, IIIa', IVa, IVa') most strongly inhibited ear oedema on both topical (ID50, 1.6 mg per ear for IIe, 2.0 mg per ear for IIIa and 1.6 mg per ear for IVa) and oral (ID50, 88 mg kg-1 for IIe', 130 mg kg-1 for IIIa' and 92 mg kg-1 for IVa') administration. 5. Glycyrrhetinic acid (Ia) and its derivatives applied 30 min before TPA treatment were much more effective in inhibiting oedema than when applied 30 min after TPA. A dihemiphthalate of triterpenoid compound IVa completely inhibited oedema, even when applied 3 h before TPA treatment. 6. Glycyrrhetinic acid (Ia) and deoxoglycyrrhetol (IIa), the parent compounds, produced little inhibition by oral administration at less than 200 mg kg-1. 7. These results suggest that the dihemiphthalate derivatives of triterpenes derived from glycyrrhetinic acid by chemical modification are useful for the treatment of skin inflammation by both topical and oral application.
PMCID: PMC1854326  PMID: 2924072
3.  Interaction of Natural Dietary and Herbal Anionic Compounds and Flavonoids with Human Organic Anion Transporters 1 (SLC22A6), 3 (SLC22A8), and 4 (SLC22A11) 
Active components of complementary/alternative medicines and natural supplements are often anionic compounds and flavonoids. As such, organic anion transporters (OATs) may play a key role in their pharmacokinetic and pharmacological profiles, and represent sites for adverse drug-drug interactions. Therefore, we assessed the inhibitory effects of nine natural products, including flavonoids (catechin and epicatechin), chlorogenic acids (1,3- and 1,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid), phenolic acids (ginkgolic acids (13 : 0), (15 : 1), and (17 : 1)), and the organic acids ursolic acid and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid, on the transport activity of the human OATs, hOAT1 (SLC22A6), hOAT3 (SLC22A8), and hOAT4 (SLC22A11). Four compounds, 1,3- and 1,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, ginkgolic acid (17 : 1), and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid, significantly inhibited hOAT1-mediated transport (50 μM inhibitor versus 1 μM substrate). Five compounds, 1,3- and 1,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, ginkgolic acids (15 : 1) and (17 : 1), and epicatechin, significantly inhibited hOAT3 transport under similar conditions. Only catechin inhibited hOAT4. Dose-dependency studies were conducted for 1,3-dicaffeoylquinic acid and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid on hOAT1, and IC50 values were estimated as 1.2 ± 0.4 μM and 2.7 ± 0.2 μM, respectively. These data suggest that 1,3-dicaffeoylquinic acid and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid may cause significant hOAT1-mediated DDIs in vivo; potential should be considered for safety issues during use and in future drug development.
PMCID: PMC3618943  PMID: 23573138
4.  Synthesis and Proteasome Inhibition of Glycyrrhetinic Acid Derivatives 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2008;16(14):6696-6701.
This study discovered that glycyrrhetinic acid inhibited the human 20S proteasome at 22.3 µM. Esterification of the C-3 hydroxyl group on glycyrrhetinic acid with various carboxylic acid reagents yielded a series of analogs with marked improved potency. Among the derivatives, glycyrrhetinic acid 3-O-isophthalate (17) was the most potent compound with IC50 of 0.22 µM, which was approximately 100-fold more potent than glycyrrhetinic acid.
PMCID: PMC2579312  PMID: 18562200
Glycyrrhetinic acid; proteasome inhibitor; triterpene
5.  Glycyrrhizin Attenuates MPTP Neurotoxicity in Mouse and MPP+-Induced Cell Death in PC12 Cells 
The present study examined the inhibitory effect of licorice compounds glycyrrhizin and a metabolite 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid on the neurotoxicity of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) in the mouse and on the 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+)-induced cell death in differentiated PC12 cells. MPTP treatment increased the activities of total superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase and the levels of malondialdehyde and carbonyls in the brain compared to control mouse brain. Co-administration of glycyrrhizin (16.8 mg/kg) attenuated the MPTP effect on the enzyme activities and formation of tissue peroxidation products. In vitro assay, licorice compounds attenuated the MPP+-induced cell death and caspase-3 activation in PC12 cells. Glycyrrhizin up to 100µM significantly attenuated the toxicity of MPP+. Meanwhile, 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid showed a maximum inhibitory effect at 10µM; beyond this concentration the inhibitory effect declined. Glycyrrhizin and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid attenuated the hydrogen peroxide- or nitrogen species-induced cell death. Results from this study indicate that glycyrrhizin may attenuate brain tissue damage in mice treated with MPTP through inhibitory effect on oxidative tissue damage. Glycyrrhizin and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid may reduce the MPP+ toxicity in PC12 cells by suppressing caspase-3 activation. The effect seems to be ascribed to the antioxidant effect.
PMCID: PMC2817536  PMID: 20157396
Glycyrrhizin; MPTP; MPP+; Brain tissue damage; Cell death; Inhibitory effect
6.  Outcomes in patients with nonerosive reflux disease treated with a proton pump inhibitor and alginic acid ± glycyrrhetinic acid and anthocyanosides 
The purpose of this study was to compare the efficacy of alginic acid alone versus alginic acid combined with low doses of pure glycyrrhetinic acid and bilberry anthocyanosides as an addon to conventional proton pump inhibitor therapy in relieving symptoms associated with nonerosive reflux disease.
This prospective, randomized, 8-week, open-label trial was conducted at two centers. Sixty-three patients with persistent symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease and normal upper gastrointestinal endoscopy were eligible for the study. Patients in group A (n = 31) were treated with pantoprazole and a formula (Mirgeal®) containing alginic acid and low doses of pure glycyrrhetinic acid + standardized Vaccinium myrtillus extract for 4 weeks, then crossed over to the multi-ingredient formula for a further 4 weeks. Patients in group B (n = 32) were treated pantoprazole and alginic acid alone twice daily, then crossed over to alginic acid twice daily for a further 4 weeks. Efficacy was assessed by medical evaluation of a symptom relief score, estimated using a visual analog scale (0–10). Side effects, tolerability, and compliance were also assessed.
Of the 63 patients enrolled in the study, 58 (29 in group A and 29 in group B) completed the 8-week trial. The baseline characteristics were comparable between the two groups. During the study, significant differences were recorded in symptom scores for both groups. In group A, symptoms of chest pain, heartburn, and abdominal swelling were less serious than in group B. Treatment A was better tolerated, did not induce hypertension, and had fewer side effects than treatment B. No significant differences in compliance were found between the two groups.
Use of low doses of pure glycyrrhetinic acid + bilberry anthocyanosides, together with alginic acid as addon therapy, substantially improves symptoms in patients with nonerosive reflux disease without increasing side effects or worsening tolerability or compliance.
PMCID: PMC3615700  PMID: 23569394
proton pump inhibitors; alginic acid; glycyrrhetinic acid; anthocyanosides; nonerosive reflux disease; gastroesophageal reflux disease
7.  Structure-Dependent Inhibition of Bladder and Pancreatic Cancer Cell Growth by 2-Substituted Glycyrrhetinic and Ursolic Acid Derivatives 
Derivatives of oleanolic acid, ursolic acid and glycyrrhetinic acid substituted with electron withdrawing groups at the 2-position in the A-ring which also contains a 1-en-3-one structure are potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth. In this study, we have compared the effects of several 2-substituted analogs of triterpenoid acid methyl esters derived from ursolic and glycyrrhetinic acid on proliferation of KU7 and 253JB-V bladder and Panc-1 and Panc-28 pancreatic cancer cells. The results show that the 2-cyano and 2-trifluoromethyl derivatives were the most active compounds. The glycyrrhetinic acid derivatives with the rearranged C-ring containing the 9(11)-en-12-one structure were generally more active than the corresponding 12-en-11-one isomers. However, differences in growth inhibitory IC50 values were highly variable and dependent on the 2- substitutent (CN vs. CF3) and cancer cell context.
PMCID: PMC2408873  PMID: 18359628
glycyrrhetinate analogs; growth inhibition; bladder cancer; pancreatic cancer
8.  Antibacterial Effects of Glycyrrhetinic Acid and Its Derivatives on Staphylococcus aureus 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(11):e0165831.
Staphylococcus aureus is a major pathogen in humans and causes serious problems due to antibiotic resistance. We investigated the antimicrobial effect of glycyrrhetinic acid (GRA) and its derivatives against 50 clinical S. aureus strains, including 18 methicillin-resistant strains. The minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of GRA, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, disodium succinoyl glycyrrhetinate (GR-SU), stearyl glycyrrhetinate and glycyrrhetinyl stearate were evaluated against various S. aureus strains. Additionally, we investigated the bactericidal effects of GRA and GR-SU against two specific S. aureus strains. DNA microarray analysis was also performed to clarify the mechanism underlying the antibacterial activity of GR-SU. We detected the antimicrobial activities of five agents against S. aureus strains. GRA and GR-SU showed strong antibacterial activities compared to the other three agents tested. At a higher concentration (above 2x MIC), GRA and GR-SU showed bactericidal activity, whereas at a concentration of 1x MIC, they showed a bacteriostatic effect. Additionally, GRA and GR-SU exhibited a synergistic effect with gentamicin. The expression of a large number of genes (including transporters) and metabolic factors (carbohydrates and amino acids) was altered by the addition of GR-SU, suggesting that the inhibition of these metabolic processes may influence the degree of the requirement for carbohydrates or amino acids. In fact, the requirement for carbohydrates or amino acids was increased in the presence of either GRA or GR-SU. GRA and GR-SU exhibited strong antibacterial activity against several S. aureus strains, including MRSA. This activity may be partly due to the inhibition of several pathways involved in carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism.
PMCID: PMC5098735  PMID: 27820854
9.  Efficacy of chlorhexidine gluconate ointment (Oronine H®) for experimentally-induced comedones 
Oronine H® ointment, which contains chlorhexidine gluconate as its active component, is a well known disinfectant, and has been widely used for treatment of acne in Japan. In this study, we investigated the inhibitory effect of this ointment on the formation of comedones induced by application of 50% oleic acid on the orifices of the external auditory canals of rabbits.
The application sites were observed with a dermatoscope, and the area of the hair pores was measured using an Image analysis software program.
The chlorhexidine gluconate ointment inhibited comedone formation significantly more effectively than the liquid paraffin used as a control (P < 0.001). We also investigated the therapeutic effect of this ointment on comedones. After starting application of chlorhexidine gluconate ointment or liquid paraffin on the comedone area, the hair pore size was gradually decreased in the group treated with chlorhexidine gluconate ointment compared with the hair pore size at baseline.
These results suggest that chlorhexidine gluconate ointment is effective for inhibiting comedone formation as well as for treating already formed comedones. Chlorhexidine gluconate ointment is a useful topical medicine for the treatment of early-stage acne and for preventing acne.
PMCID: PMC3426266  PMID: 22936850
chlorhexidine gluconate ointment; comedones; dermatoscope; oleic acid
10.  Connexin 43 Expression on Peripheral Blood Eosinophils: Role of Gap Junctions in Transendothelial Migration 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:803257.
Eosinophils circulate in the blood and are recruited in tissues during allergic inflammation. Gap junctions mediate direct communication between adjacent cells and may represent a new way of communication between immune cells distinct from communication through cytokines and chemokines. We characterized the expression of connexin (Cx)43 by eosinophils isolated from atopic individuals using RT-PCR, Western blotting, and confocal microscopy and studied the biological functions of gap junctions on eosinophils. The formation of functional gap junctions was evaluated measuring dye transfer using flow cytometry. The role of gap junctions on eosinophil transendothelial migration was studied using the inhibitor 18-a-glycyrrhetinic acid. Peripheral blood eosinophils express Cx43 mRNA and protein. Cx43 is localized not only in the cytoplasm but also on the plasma membrane. The membrane impermeable dye BCECF transferred from eosinophils to epithelial or endothelial cells following coculture in a dose and time dependent fashion. The gap junction inhibitors 18-a-glycyrrhetinic acid and octanol did not have a significant effect on dye transfer but reduced dye exit from eosinophils. The gap junction inhibitor 18-a-glycyrrhetinic acid inhibited eosinophil transendothelial migration in a dose dependent manner. Thus, eosinophils from atopic individuals express Cx43 constitutively and Cx43 may play an important role in eosinophil transendothelial migration and function in sites of inflammation.
PMCID: PMC4109672  PMID: 25110696
11.  Levcromakalim causes indirect endothelial hyperpolarization via a myo-endothelial pathway 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1999;128(7):1491-1496.
Effects of K+ channel opener, levcromakalim, on vascular endothelial cells were examined. Under voltage- and current-clamp conditions, application of acetylcholine to dispersed endothelial cells isolated from rabbit superior mesenteric artery (dispersed RMAECs) produced hyperpolarization and outward currents. On the other hand, dispersed RMAECs did not respond to levcromakalim.When membrane potential was recorded from endothelium in a mesenteric arterial segment, exposure to levcromakalim in a concentration range of 0.1 to 3 μM caused concentration-dependent hyperpolarization. The hyperpolarization was observed in the absence of external Ca2+ and was inhibited by 10 μM glibenclamide.The presence of 1 mM heptanol did not affect the levcromakalin-induced hyperpolarization, whereas treatment of the mesenteric arterial segment with 20 μM 18 β-glycyrrhetinic acid significantly reduced the hyperpolarization. The response to acetylcholine of RMAECs in an arterial segment with 18 β-glycyrrhetinic acid was, however, similar to that without 18 β-glycyrrhetinic acid.These suggest that although RMAECs themselves are functionally insensitive to levcromakalim, those in an arterial segment are hyperpolarized by levcromakalim via myo-endothelial electrical communication.
PMCID: PMC1571792  PMID: 10602328
Levcromakalim; ATP-dependent K+ current; rabbit mesenteric artery; endothelial cells; myo-endothelial communication; 18 β-glycyrrhetinic acid
12.  Glycyrrhetinic Acid-Poly(ethylene glycol)-glycyrrhetinic Acid Tri-Block Conjugates Based Self-Assembled Micelles for Hepatic Targeted Delivery of Poorly Water Soluble Drug 
The Scientific World Journal  2013;2013:913654.
The triblock 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid-poly(ethylene glycol)-18β-glycyrrhetinic acid conjugates (GA-PEG-GA) based self-assembled micelles were synthesized and characterized by FTIR, NMR, transmission electron microscopy, and particle size analysis. The GA-PEG-GA conjugates having the critical micelle concentration of 6 × 10−5 M were used to form nanosized micelles, with mean diameters of 159.21 ± 2.2 nm, and then paclitaxel (PTX) was incorporated into GA-PEG-GA micelles by self-assembly method. The physicochemical properties of the PTX loaded GA-PEG-GA micelles were evaluated including in vitro cellular uptake, cytotoxicity, drug release profile, and in vivo tissue distribution. The results demonstrate that the GA-PEG-GA micelles had low cytotoxicity and good ability of selectively delivering drug to hepatic cells in vitro and in vivo by the targeting moiety glycyrrhetinic acid. In conclusion, the GA-PEG-GA conjugates have potential medical applications for targeted delivery of poor soluble drug delivery.
PMCID: PMC3858885  PMID: 24376388
13.  18β-Glycyrrhetinic acid preferentially blocks late Na current generated by ΔKPQ Nav1.5 channels 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2012;33(6):752-760.
To compare the effects of two stereoisomeric forms of glycyrrhetinic acid on different components of Na+ current, HERG and Kv1.5 channel currents.
Wild-type (WT) and long QT syndrome type 3 (LQT-3) mutant ΔKPQ Nav1.5 channels, as well as HERG and Kv1.5 channels were expressed in Xenopus oocytes. In addition, isolated human atrial myocytes were used. Two-microelectrode voltage-clamp technique was used to record the voltage-activated currents.
Superfusion of 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (18β-GA, 1–100 μmol/L) blocked both the peak current (INa,P) and late current (INa,L) generated by WT and ΔKPQ Nav1.5 channels in a concentration-dependent manner, while 18α-glycyrrhetinic acid (18α-GA) at the same concentrations had no effects. 18β-GA preferentially blocked INa,L (IC50=37.2±14.4 μmol/L) to INa,P (IC50=100.4±11.2 μmol/L) generated by ΔKPQ Nav1.5 channels. In human atrial myocytes, 18β-GA (30 μmol/L) inhibited 47% of INa,P and 87% of INa,L induced by Anemonia sulcata toxin (ATX-II, 30 nmol/L). Superfusion of 18β-GA (100 μmol/L) had no effects on HERG and Kv1.5 channel currents.
18β-GA preferentially blocked the late Na current without affecting HERG and Kv1.5 channels.
PMCID: PMC4010371  PMID: 22609834
anti-arrhythmia agent; 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid; Nav1.5 channel; HERG channel; Kv1.5 channel; human atrial myocyte; Anemonia sulcata toxin; long QT syndrome
14.  An Open Label Prospective Randomized Trial to Compare the Efficacy of Coal Tar-Salicylic Acid Ointment Versus Calcipotriol/Betamethasone Dipropionate Ointment in the Treatment of Limited Chronic Plaque Psoriasis 
Indian Journal of Dermatology  2014;59(6):579-583.
Chronic plaque psoriasis is a common papulosquamous skin disorder, for which a number of topical agents are being used including coal tar, topical steroids and more recently topical calcipotriol/betamethasone dipropionate. There is no study comparing purified coal tar preparation with calcipotriol/betamethasone dipropionate ointment in limited chronic plaque psoriasis.
Aims and Objectives:
A prospective randomized open label controlled trial to compare the efficacy and safety of topical application of coal tar-salicylic acid ointment with calcipotriol/betamethasone dipropionate ointment applied once at night for 12 weeks for the treatment of limited chronic plaque psoriasis.
Materials and Methods:
A total of 62 patients of limited chronic plaque psoriasis (body surface area <10%) were randomized into two treatment groups: Group A received topical application of 6% coal tar with 3% salicylic acid ointment and Group B received calcipotriol/betamethasone dipropionate, once at night for 12 weeks. Results were assessed based on psoriasis area severity index (PASI) scores and patient global assessment (PGA) at each visit.
Mean PASI was significantly lower at week 2 (P = 0.01) and week 4 follow-up (P = 0.05) and the mean reduction in PASI was significantly higher at week 2 (P = 0.02) with calcipotriol/betamethasone than coal tar-salicylic acid, but this difference was not sustained at subsequent follow-up visits. Similarly, PGA scores at weeks 2 and 4 were significantly lower with calcipotriol/betamethasone dipropionate ointment (P = 0.003 and P = 0.007 respectively). There was no significant difference in any parameter during subsequent follow-up visits or at the end of the treatment phase (12 weeks).
Topical nightly application of calcipotriol/betamethasone dipropionate ointment leads to an initial, more rapid reduction in disease severity, but the overall outcome parameters are comparable in the two treatment groups.
PMCID: PMC4248495  PMID: 25484388
Calcipotriol/betamethasone; coal tar; psoriasis
15.  Screening of gap junction antagonists on dye coupling in the rabbit retina 
Visual neuroscience  2007;24(4):609-618.
Many cell types in the retina are coupled via gap junctions and so there is a pressing need for a potent and reversible gap junction antagonist. We screened a series of potential gap junction antagonists by evaluating their effects on dye coupling in the network of A-type horizontal cells. We evaluated the following compounds: meclofenamic acid (MFA), mefloquine, 2-aminoethyldiphenyl borate (2-APB), 18-α-glycyrrhetinic acid, 18-β-glycyrrhetinic acid (18-β-GA), retinoic acid, flufenamic acid, niflumic acid, and carbenoxolone. The efficacy of each drug was determined by measuring the diffusion coefficient for Neurobiotin (Mills & Massey, 1998). MFA, 18-β-GA, 2-APB and mefloquine were the most effective antagonists, completely eliminating A-type horizontal cell coupling at a concentration of 200 μM. Niflumic acid, flufenamic acid, and carbenoxolone were less potent. Additionally, carbenoxolone was difficult to wash out and also may be harmful, as the retina became opaque and swollen. MFA, 18-β-GA, 2-APB and mefloquine also blocked coupling in B-type horizontal cells and AII amacrine cells. Because these cell types express different connexins, this suggests that the antagonists were relatively non-selective across several different types of gap junction. It should be emphasized that MFA was water-soluble and its effects on dye coupling were easily reversible. In contrast, the other gap junction antagonists, except carbenoxolone, required DMSO to make stock solutions and were difficult to wash out of the preparation at the doses required to block coupling in A-type HCs. The combination of potency, water solubility and reversibility suggest that MFA may be a useful compound to manipulate gap junction coupling.
PMCID: PMC2213422  PMID: 17711600
Horizontal cells; Retina; Gap junction antagonist
16.  Chemical modifications of natural triterpenes - glycyrrhetinic and boswellic acids: evaluation of their biological activity 
Tetrahedron  2008;64(51):11541-11548.
Synthetic analogues of naturally occurring triterpenoids; glycyrrhetinic acid, arjunolic acid and boswellic acids, by modification of A-ring with a cyano- and enone- functionalities, have been reported. A novel method of synthesis of α-cyanoenones from isoxazoles is reported. Bio-assays using primary mouse macrophages and tumor cell lines indicate potent anti-inflammatory and cytotoxic activities associated with cyanoenones of boswellic acid and glycyrrhetinic acid.
PMCID: PMC2900779  PMID: 20622928
17.  Effects of a Non-Conservative Sequence on the Properties of β-glucuronidase from Aspergillus terreus Li-20 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30998.
We cloned the β-glucuronidase gene (AtGUS) from Aspergillus terreus Li-20 encoding 657 amino acids (aa), which can transform glycyrrhizin into glycyrrhetinic acid monoglucuronide (GAMG) and glycyrrhetinic acid (GA). Based on sequence alignment, the C-terminal non-conservative sequence showed low identity with those of other species; thus, the partial sequence AtGUS(-3t) (1–592 aa) was amplified to determine the effects of the non-conservative sequence on the enzymatic properties. AtGUS and AtGUS(-3t) were expressed in E. coli BL21, producing AtGUS-E and AtGUS(-3t)-E, respectively. At the similar optimum temperature (55°C) and pH (AtGUS-E, 6.6; AtGUS(-3t)-E, 7.0) conditions, the thermal stability of AtGUS(-3t)-E was enhanced at 65°C, and the metal ions Co2+, Ca2+ and Ni2+ showed opposite effects on AtGUS-E and AtGUS(-3t)-E, respectively. Furthermore, Km of AtGUS(-3t)-E (1.95 mM) was just nearly one-seventh that of AtGUS-E (12.9 mM), whereas the catalytic efficiency of AtGUS(-3t)-E was 3.2 fold higher than that of AtGUS-E (7.16 vs. 2.24 mM s−1), revealing that the truncation of non-conservative sequence can significantly improve the catalytic efficiency of AtGUS. Conformational analysis illustrated significant difference in the secondary structure between AtGUS-E and AtGUS(-3t)-E by circular dichroism (CD). The results showed that the truncation of the non-conservative sequence could preferably alter and influence the stability and catalytic efficiency of enzyme.
PMCID: PMC3274521  PMID: 22347419
18.  Unequivocal glycyrrhizin isomer determination and comparative in vitro bioactivities of root extracts in four Glycyrrhiza species 
Journal of Advanced Research  2014;6(1):99-104.
Graphical abstract
Glycyrrhiza glabra, commonly known as licorice, is a popular herbal supplement used for the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions and as sweetener in the food industry. This species contains a myriad of phytochemicals including the major saponin glycoside glycyrrhizin (G) of Glycyrrhetinic acid (GA) aglycone. In this study, 2D-ROESY NMR technique was successfully applied for distinguishing 18α and 18β glycyrrhetinic acid (GA). ROESY spectra acquired from G. glabra, Glycyrrhiza uralensis and Glycyrrhiza inflata crude extracts revealed the presence of G in its β-form. Anti-inflammatory activity of four Glycyrrhiza species, G, glabra, G. uralensis, G. inflata, and G. echinata roots was assessed against COX-1 inhibition revealing that phenolics rather than glycyrrhizin are biologically active in this assay. G. inflata exhibits a strong cytotoxic effect against PC3 and HT29 cells lines, whereas other species are inactive. This study presents an effective NMR method for G isomer assignment in licorice extracts that does not require any preliminary chromatography or any other purification step.
PMCID: PMC4293670  PMID: 25685548
G. glabra; G. inflata; G. uralensis; Glycyrrhizin; Licorice; ROESY
19.  Junctional and nonjunctional effects of heptanol and glycyrrhetinic acid derivates in rat mesenteric small arteries 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2004;142(6):961-972.
Heptanol, 18α-glycyrrhetinic acid (18αGA) and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (18βGA) are known blockers of gap junctions, and are often used in vascular studies. However, actions unrelated to gap junction block have been repeatedly suggested in the literature for these compounds. We report here the findings from a comprehensive study of these compounds in the arterial wall.Rat isolated mesenteric small arteries were studied with respect to isometric tension (myography), [Ca2+]i (Ca2+-sensitive dyes), membrane potential and – as a measure of intercellular coupling – input resistance (sharp intracellular glass electrodes). Also, membrane currents (patch-clamp) were measured in isolated smooth muscle cells (SMCs). Confocal imaging was used for visualisation of [Ca2+]i events in single SMCs in the arterial wall.Heptanol (150 μM) activated potassium currents, hyperpolarised the membrane, inhibited the Ca2+ current, and reduced [Ca2+]i and tension, but had little effect on input resistance. Only at concentrations above 200 μM did heptanol elevate input resistance, desynchronise SMCs and abolish vasomotion.18βGA (30 μM) not only increased input resistance and desynchronised SMCs but also had nonjunctional effects on membrane currents. 18αGA (100 μM) had no significant effects on tension, [Ca2+]i, total membrane current and synchronisation in vascular smooth muscle.We conclude that in mesenteric small arteries, heptanol and 18βGA have important nonjunctional effects at concentrations where they have little or no effect on intercellular communication. Thus, the effects of heptanol and 18βGA on vascular function cannot be interpreted as being caused only by effects on gap junctions. 18αGA apparently does not block communication between SMCs in these arteries, although an effect on myoendothelial gap junctions cannot be excluded.
PMCID: PMC1575116  PMID: 15210581
Heptanol; membrane potential; [Ca2+]i; ion current; vasomotion; glycyrrhetinic acid; gap junctions; smooth muscle
20.  Endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation independent of nitric oxide and K+ release in isolated renal arteries of rats 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2001;132(7):1558-1564.
We investigated whether K+ can act as an endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF) in isolated small renal arteries of Wistar-Kyoto rats.Acetylcholine (0.001 – 3 μM) caused relaxations that were abolished by removal of the endothelium. However, acetylcholine-induced relaxations were not affected by the nitric oxide (NO) synthase inhibitor Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME, 100 μM), by L-NAME plus the soluble guanylate cyclase inhibitor 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3,-a]quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ, 1 μM) or by L-NAME plus the cyclo-oxygenase inhibitor indomethacin (10 μM). In rings precontracted with high-K+(60 mM) physiological salt solution in the presence of L-NAME, acetylcholine-induced relaxations were abolished.L-NAME-resistant relaxations were abolished by the large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel inhibitor charybdotoxin plus the small-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel inhibitor apamin, while the inward rectifier K+ channel inhibitor Ba2+ or the gap junction inhibitor 18α-glycyrrhetinic acid had no effect. Acetylcholine-induced relaxation was unchanged by ouabain (10 μM) but was partially inhibited by a higher concentration (100 μM).In half of the tissues tested, K+(10 mM) itself produced L-NAME-resistant relaxations that were blocked by ouabain (10 μM) and partially reduced by charybdotoxin plus apamin, but not affected by 18α-glycyrrhetinic acid or Ba2+. However, K+ did not induce relaxations in endothelium-denuded tissues.In conclusion, acetylcholine-induced relaxations in this tissue are largely dependent upon hyperpolarization mechanisms that are initiated in the endothelium but do not depend upon NO release. K+ release cannot account for endothelium-dependent relaxation and cannot be an EDHF in this artery. However, K+ itself can initiate endothelium-dependent relaxations via a different pathway from acetylcholine, but the mechanisms of K+-induced relaxations remain to be clarified.
PMCID: PMC1572700  PMID: 11264250
Acetylcholine; Ba2+; endothelium-dependent; hyperpolarization; EDHF; 18α-glycyrrhetinic acid; K+; nitric oxide; ouabain; renal arteries
21.  Electrical conduction along endothelial cell tubes from mouse feed arteries: confounding actions of glycyrrhetinic acid derivatives 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2012;166(2):774-787.
Electrical conduction along endothelium of resistance vessels has not been determined independently of the influence of smooth muscle, surrounding tissue or blood. Two interrelated hypotheses were tested: (i) Intercellular conduction of electrical signals is manifest in endothelial cell (EC) tubes; and (ii) Inhibitors of gap junction channels (GJCs) have confounding actions on EC electrical and Ca2+ signalling.
Intact EC tubes were isolated from abdominal muscle feed (superior epigastric) arteries of C57BL/6 mice. Hyperpolarization was initiated with indirect (ACh) and direct (NS309) stimulation of intermediate- and small-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels (IKCa/SKCa). Remote membrane potential (Vm) responses to intracellular current injection defined the length constant (λ) for electrical conduction. Dye coupling was evaluated following intracellular microinjection of propidium iodide. Intracellular Ca2+ dynamics were determined using Fura-2 photometry. Carbenoxolone (CBX) or β-glycyrrhetinic acid (βGA) was used to investigate the role of GJCs.
Steady-state Vm of ECs was −25 mV. ACh and NS309 hyperpolarized ECs by −40 and −60 mV respectively. Electrical conduction decayed monoexponentially with distance (λ∼1.4 mm). Propidium iodide injected into one EC spread into surrounding ECs. CBX or βGA inhibited dye transfer, electrical conduction and EC hyperpolarization reversibly. Both agents elevated resting Ca2+ while βGA inhibited responses to ACh.
Individual cells were effectively coupled to each other within EC tubes. Inhibiting GJCs with glycyrrhetinic acid derivatives blocked hyperpolarization mediated by IKCa/SKCa channels, regardless of Ca2+ signalling, obviating use of these agents in distinguishing key determinants of electrical conduction along the endothelium.
PMCID: PMC3417504  PMID: 22168386
calcium-activated K+ channels; cell-to-cell coupling; endothelium; gap junction channels; hyperpolarization; microcirculation; resistance arteries
22.  Role of connexin 43 in the maintenance of spontaneous activity in the guinea pig prostate gland 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2010;161(8):1692-1707.
To investigate the role of connexin 43 in the maintenance of spontaneous activity in prostate tissue from young and old guinea pigs.
Conventional intracellular microelectrode and tension recording techniques, coupled with Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry for connexin 43 (CX43) were used. The effects of three gap junction uncouplers, 18β glycyrrhetinic acid (10 µM, 40 µM), carbenoxolone (10 µM, 50 µM) and octanol (0.5 mM, 1 mM), were studied in cells displaying slow wave activity and on spontaneously contracting tissue from prostate glands of young (2–5 months) and old (9–16 months) guinea pigs.
18β Glycyrrhetinic acid (40 µM), carbenoxolone (50 µM) or octanol (0.5 mM) abolished slow wave activity in prostate tissue from young and old guinea pigs and depolarized membrane potential by approximately 5 mV. These treatments also abolished all contractions in both sets of prostate tissue. These effects were reversed upon washout. Western blot analysis and CX43 immunohistochemistry showed that there was no age-related difference in the expression and distribution of CX43 in prostate tissues.
When gap junctional communication via CX43 was disrupted, spontaneous activity was abolished at a cellular and whole tissue level; CX43 is therefore essential for the maintenance of spontaneous slow wave activity and subsequent contractile activity in the guinea pig prostate gland.
PMCID: PMC3010576  PMID: 20735413
smooth muscle; prostate; slow waves; BPH; age; gap junctions; ICC
23.  11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase inhibition as a new potential therapeutic target for alcohol abuse 
Translational Psychiatry  2016;6(3):e760-.
The identification of new and more effective treatments for alcohol abuse remains a priority. Alcohol intake activates glucocorticoids, which have a key role in alcohol's reinforcing properties. Glucocorticoid effects are modulated in part by the activity of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (11β-HSD) acting as pre-receptors. Here, we tested the effects on alcohol intake of the 11β-HSD inhibitor carbenoxolone (CBX, 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid 3β-O-hemisuccinate), which has been extensively used in the clinic for the treatment of gastritis and peptic ulcer and is active on both 11β-HSD1 and 11β-HSD2 isoforms. We observed that CBX reduces both baseline and excessive drinking in rats and mice. The CBX diastereomer 18α-glycyrrhetinic acid 3β-O-hemisuccinate (αCBX), which we found to be selective for 11β-HSD2, was also effective in reducing alcohol drinking in mice. Thus, 11β-HSD inhibitors may be a promising new class of candidate alcohol abuse medications, and existing 11β-HSD inhibitor drugs may be potentially re-purposed for alcohol abuse treatment.
PMCID: PMC4872439  PMID: 26978742
24.  Fluid Shear-Induced ATP Secretion Mediates Prostaglandin Release in MC3T3-E1 Osteoblasts 
ATP is rapidly released from osteoblasts in response to mechanical load. We examined the mechanisms involved in this release and established that shear-induced ATP release was mediated through vesicular fusion and was dependent on Ca2+ entry into the cell via L-type voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channels. Degradation of secreted ATP by apyrase prevented shear-induced PGE2 release.
Fluid shear induces a rapid rise in intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) in osteoblasts that mediates many of the cellular responses associated with mechanotransduction in bone. A potential mechanism for this increase in [Ca2+]i is the activation of purinergic (P2) receptors resulting from shear-induced extracellular release of ATP. This study was designed to determine the effects of fluid shear on ATP release and the possible mechanisms associated with this release.
MC3T3-E1 preosteoblasts were plated on type I collagen, allowed to proliferate to 90% confluency, then subjected to 12 dynes/cm2 laminar fluid flow using a parallel plate flow chamber. ATP release into the flow media was measured using a luciferin/luciferase assay. Inhibitors of channels, gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) and vesicular formation were added prior to shear and maintained in the flow medium for the duration of the experiment.
Results and Conclusions
Fluid shear produced a transient increase in ATP release compared to static MC3T3-E1 cells (59.8±15.7nM vs. 6.2±1.8nM, respectively), peaking within 1 min of onset. Inhibition of calcium entry through the L-type voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channel (L-VSCC) with nifedipine or verapamil significantly attenuated shear-induced ATP release. Channel inhibition had no effect on basal ATP release in static cells. Ca2+ -dependent ATP release in response to shear appeared to result from vesicular release, and not through gap hemichannels, since vesicle disruption with N-ethylmaleimide, brefeldin A, or monensin prevented increases in flow-induced ATP release, whereas inhibition of gap hemichannels with either 18α-glycyrrhetinic acid or 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid did not. Degradation of extracellular ATP with apyrase prevented shear-induced increases in PGE2 release. These data suggest a time line of mechanotransduction wherein fluid shear activates L-VSCC's to promote Ca2+ entry that, in turn, stimulates vesicular ATP release. Further, these data suggest that P2 receptor activation by secreted ATP mediates flow-induced prostaglandin release.
PMCID: PMC2929123  PMID: 15619668
ATP release; mechanotransduction; Ca2+ signaling; osteoblasts; fluid shear
25.  Synthesis and Pro-Apoptotic Activity of Novel Glycyrrhetinic Acid Derivatives 
Chembiochem  2011;12(5):784-794.
Triterpenoids are used for medicinal purposes in many countries. Some, such as oleanolic and glycyrrhetinic acids, are known to be anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic. However, the biological activities of these naturally occurring molecules against their particular targets are weak, so the synthesis of new synthetic analogues with enhanced potency is needed. By combining modifications to both the A and C rings of 18βH-glycyrrhetinic acid, the novel synthetic derivative methyl 2-cyano-3,12-dioxo-18βH-olean-9(11),1(2)-dien-30-oate was obtained. This derivative displays high antiproliferative activity in cancer cells, including a cell line with a multidrug-resistance phenotype. It causes cell death by inducing the intrinsic caspase-dependent apoptotic pathway.
PMCID: PMC3085123  PMID: 21328513
antitumor agents; apoptosis; biological activity; glycyrrhetinic acid derivatives; medicinal chemistry

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