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Biol Pharm Bull. 2009 Dec;32(12):2018-21.

Effects of Kampo medicines on P-glycoprotein.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacokinetics, Hoshi University, 2-4-41 Ebara, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 142-8501, Japan.


The Kampo medicines are more and more often used in recent years, usually together with the western drugs. The need for the investigation of drug interactions between Kampo medicines and western drugs are, therefore, widely recognized. Among the various possible causes for the drug-drug interactions, those related to pharmacokinetics such as drug metabolism and transport are regarded as most frequent and clinically important. In the present study, the effects of Kampo medicines on the P-glycoprotein (P-gp), one of the major drug transporters, were investigated in in vitro studies using human P-gp membranes. The P-gp activity in the presence and absence of commonly used 50 Kampo medicines was evaluated by the ATPase assay detecting the inorganic phosphate produced by the ATP hydrolysis. The ATPase activity was inhibited by most of the Kampo medicines studied, indicating the possibility of their inhibiting the P-gp. The degree of inhibition in the presence of verapamil, a P-gp substrate, showed a significant correlation with that in the absence of verapamil. Furthermore, the inhibitory effect of the Kampo medicines on the ATPase activity correlated with their licorice root (kanzo) content, suggesting the contribution of licorice root in the P-gp inhibition. Because licorice root is one of the most common ingredients in the Kampo medicines and is also often used in the food as a sweetener, it might be necessary to pay attention on the interaction between the licorice root-containing drug/food and the number of drugs transported by P-gp.

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