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Gastroenterology. 2008 Jun;134(7):2004-13. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2008.02.078. Epub 2008 Feb 29.

Rikkunshito, an herbal medicine, suppresses cisplatin-induced anorexia in rats via 5-HT2 receptor antagonism.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology and Hematology, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Japan.



Chemotherapy with an anticancer agent generally causes gastrointestinal tract disorders such as vomiting and anorexia, but the mechanism remains unclear. Rikkunshito, a kampo preparation, is known to alleviate such adverse reactions. In this study, we attempted to clarify the mechanism.


We investigated the decreases of plasma acylated-ghrelin level and food intake caused by cisplatin, serotonin (5-HT), 5-HT agonists, and vagotomy as well as the decrease-suppressing effects of rikkunshito and 5-HT antagonists. In addition, binding affinities of rikkunshito components were determined in receptor-binding assays using 5-HT2B and 5-HT2C receptors.


Cisplatin, 5-HT, BW723C86 (5-HT2B-receptor agonist), and m-chlorophenylpiperazine HCl (5-HT2C agonist) markedly decreased plasma acylated-ghrelin levels, although 5-HT3 and 5-HT4 agonists had no effect. In contrast, 5-HT2B and 5-HT2C antagonists suppressed the cisplatin-induced decrease of plasma acylated-ghrelin level and food intake. Administration of rat ghrelin improved the cisplatin-induced decrease in food intake. Vagotomy decreased the plasma acylated-ghrelin level, which was decreased further by cisplatin. Rikkunshito suppressed such cisplatin-induced decreases of plasma acylated-ghrelin level and food intake. The suppressive effect of rikkunshito was blocked by a ghrelin antagonist. Components of rikkunshito, 3,3',4',5,6,7,8-heptamethoxyflavone, hesperidin, and iso-liquiritigenin showed a 5-HT2B-antagonistic effect in vitro, and oral administration of rikkunshito suppressed the cisplatin-induced decrease in the plasma acylated-ghrelin level.


The cisplatin-induced decreases of the plasma acylated-ghrelin level and food intake are mediated by 5-HT2B/2C receptors and suppressed by flavonoids in rikkunshito.

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