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Phytomedicine. 2012 Mar 15;19(5):402-8. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2011.11.013. Epub 2012 Jan 9.

Schisandra chinensis reverses visceral hypersensitivity in a neonatal-maternal separated rat model.

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School of Chinese Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong.


Visceral hypersensitivity is an important characteristic feature of functional gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This study evaluated the effect of Schisandra chinensis on visceral hyperalgesia induced by neonatal maternal separation (NMS) in an IBS rat model. The visceromotor responses to colorectal balloon distension (CRD) were measured by abdominal withdrawal reflex (AWR) and electromyographic (EMG) activities. NMS control rats (receiving vehicle) underwent aggravated visceral pain in response to CRD as compared to normal rats, evidenced by the reduced pain threshold, enhanced AWR scores and EMG responses. Treatment with a 70% ethanol extract of S. chinensis (0.3g/kg and 1.5g/kg/day) for 7 days resulted in an increase in the pain threshold (NMS control: 19.1±1.0mmHg vs low-dose: 24.8±1.3mmHg and high-dose: 25.2±1.8mmHg, p<0.01), and abolished the elevated AWR and EMG responses to CRD in NMS rats (AUC values of EMG response curve were: 1952±202 in NMS control group vs 1074±90 in low-dose group and 1145±92 in high-dose group, p<0.001), indicating that S. chinensis could reverse the visceral hypersensitivity induced by early-life stress event. The result of ELSA measurement shows that the elevated serotonin (5-HT) level in the distal colon of NMS rats returned to normal level after treatment with S. chinensis. Moreover, the increase in pain threshold in rats treated with S. chinensis was associated with a decline of the mRNA level of 5-HT(3) receptor in the distal colon. All available results demonstrate that S. chinensis can reverse visceral hypersensitivity induced by neonatal-maternal separation, and the effect may be mediated through colonic 5-HT pathway in the rat.

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