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Open Access Research article

Evaluation of 147 Kampo prescriptions as novel protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) inhibitory agents

Toshihisa Onoda12, Wei Li1*, Koji Higai1 and Kazuo Koike1

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Toho University, Miyama 2-2-1, Funabashi, Chiba 274-8510, Japan

2 Toho University Sakura Medical Center, Shimoshidu 564-1, Sakura, Chiba 285-8741, Japan

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:64  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-64

Published: 20 February 2014



Protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) 1B, a negative regulator of the insulin and leptin signaling pathways, is currently considered a promising target for the development of novel therapeutic approaches used to treat insulin-resistant type 2 diabetes mellitus (IR-T2DM). In this study, we examined the PTP1B inhibitory activity of 147 Japanese prescription Kampo formulations to evaluate their potential for clinical application in IR-T2DM treatment.


We specifically defined the prescribed daily dose as 1 Unit (U), and 147 Japanese prescription Kampo formulations were screened for PTP1B inhibitory activity at a final concentration of 0.1 mU/mL. We investigated the dependence of the inhibitory activity on the concentration of the Kampo formulations that exhibited high PTP1B inhibitory activity. Their inhibition mode by kinetic analysis, inhibitory selectivities against four homologous PTPs (TCPTP, VHR, SHP-1 and SHP-2) and cellular activity in the insulin-signaling pathway by increasing the insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation level in human hepatocellular liver carcinoma HepG2 cells, were also investigated. The statistical partial least squares regression method was used to identify the crude drugs with the greatest contribution to the PTP1B inhibitory activity of the Kampo formulations.


Daiokanzoto, Masiningan, Tokakujokito, Keimakakuhanto and Choijokito exhibited high PTP1B inhibitory activity, which was concentration-dependent. Daiokanzoto, Masiningan and Tokakujokito inhibited PTP1B by mixed inhibition modes and exhibited different inhibitory selectivities against four homologous PTPs. Masiningan also exhibited cellular activity. Statistical analyses indicated that the constituent crude drug Rhei Rhizoma provided the greatest contribution to the PTP1B inhibitory activity of these Kampo formulations.


High PTP1B inhibitory activity was predominantly associated with formulations that were classified as Jyokito in Kampo medicine and with a modern clinical indication of constipation. Currently, there is no clinical treatment for IR-T2DM that uses a mechanism of action based on PTP1B inhibition. Thus, we propose the Kampo formulations identified in this study as strong PTP1B inhibitors, which could be developed as clinical therapeutic agents to treat IR-T2DM.

Kampo; Protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B; Insulin-resistance Type 2 diabetes mellitus; Rhei Rhizoma