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Biochem Pharmacol. 2007 Jan 15;73(2):248-58. Epub 2006 Oct 6.

Interaction of valerian extracts of different polarity with adenosine receptors: identification of isovaltrate as an inverse agonist at A1 receptors.

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Pharmaceutical Institute, Pharmaceutical Chemistry I, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.


A series of extracts of valerian roots (Valeriana officinalis L.) was prepared with solvents of different polarity. Polar as well as nonpolar extracts were found to interact with adenosine A(1) receptors. While polar extracts activated A(1) receptors (partial agonistic activity), nonpolar extracts showed antagonistic or inverse agonistic activity at A(1) receptors, as demonstrated by GTPgammaS binding assays at human recombinant A(1) receptors stably expressed in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. Guided by radioligand binding assays, fractionation of a lipophilic petroleum ether:diethyl ether (1:1) extract led to the isolation of isovaltrate, which was characterized as a potent, highly efficacious inverse agonist at adenosine A(1) receptors (K(i) rat A(1): 2.05 microM). In experiments at rat brain slices measuring post-synaptic potentials (PSPs) in cortical neurons, isovaltrate at least partly reversed the reduction in the PSPs induced by the adenosine A(1) receptor agonist N(6)-cyclopentyladenosine (CPA). Isovaltrate may serve as a new lead structure for the development of inverse agonists at adenosine A(1) receptors. The common use of hydrophilic, but not lipophilic valerian extracts as mild sleep-inducing agents is consistent with the opposite actions of hydrophilic and lipophilic extracts on adenosine receptors.

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