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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Potassium channel openers and prostacyclin play a crucial role in mediating the vasorelaxant activity of Gynura procumbens

Hien-Kun Ng, Ting-Fung Poh, Sau-Kuen Lam and See-Ziau Hoe*

Author Affiliations

Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:188  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-188

Published: 23 July 2013



Previous studies of Gynura procumbens (G. procumbens) have shown that partially purified fractions of the leaves are capable of lowering the blood pressure of rats by inhibiting angiotensin-converting enzymic activity and causing vasodilatation. The objectives of this study were therefore to further purify the active compounds that exhibited selective effects on blood vessels, determine the mechanism of actions, and to qualitatively analyse the putative compounds present.


The butanolic fraction (BU) of the crude ethanolic extract was purified using column chromatography to obtain several sub-fractions of different polarities. The in vitro effects of BU and the sub-fractions on vascular tension were subsequently determined using isolated rat thoracic aortic rings. The most potent sub-fraction (F1) alone was then investigated for its mechanisms of the vasorelaxant activity. In another experiment, thin-layer chromatography was used to qualitatively analyse the active compounds found in F1.


The BU and the sub-fractions ranging from 10-7 to 10-2 g/ml significantly (pā€‰<ā€‰0.05) inhibited the sustained tonic contractions induced by phenylephrine and potassium chloride in a concentration-dependent manner with various degree of potency. The most potent sub-fraction (F1) antagonised the calcium-induced vasocontractions (1 x 10-4 ā€“ 1 x 10-2 M) in calcium-free with high concentration of potassium as well as in calcium- and potassium-free Krebs-Henseleit solutions. Contractions induced by noradrenaline and caffeine were not affected by F1. The vasorelaxing effect caused by F1 was significantly attenuated with preincubation of potassium channel blockers (glibenclamide and 4-aminopyridine) and prostacyclin inhibitor (indomethacin) while it was not affected by preincubation with tetraethylammonium, l-nitro-arginine methyl esther, propanolol, atropine, oxadiazolo quinoxalin one and methylene blue. The qualitative phytochemical analysis of F1 indicated the presence of flavonoids.


These results confirm previous findings that G. procumbens causes vasodilatory effects by blocking calcium channels. In addition, the present study further demonstrates that the vasodilatory effect of G. procumbens may also be due to the opening of potassium channels and the stimulation of prostacyclin production. The putative compounds are probably flavonoids in nature.

Gynura procumbens; Vasodilation; Calcium channel; Potassium channel; Prostacylin