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Eur J Pharmacol. 2013 Oct 15;718(1-3):131-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2013.08.042. Epub 2013 Sep 13.

Tetrodotoxin-dependent effects of menthol on mouse gastric motor function.

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Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche, Chimiche e Farmaceutiche (STEBICEF), Università di Palermo, 90128 Palermo, Italy.


Menthol, the main active constituent of peppermint oil, exerts gut spasmolytic effects, although its mechanism of action remains unclear. We investigated the effects of menthol on gastric emptying and spontaneous- or evoked- mechanical activity of whole murine stomach. Gastric emptying was calculated after i.p. administration of menthol (50mg/Kg). Responses induced by menthol on gastric intraluminal pressure and evoked-cholinergic contractions were analyzed in vitro. Menthol decreased the gastric emptying rate. In vitro, menthol (0.3-30 mM) produced a concentration-dependent relaxation of whole stomach, that was significantly reduced by tetrodotoxin or ω-conotoxin GVIA. The gastric relaxant responses were not affected by Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, inhibitor of nitric oxide-synthase, apamin or [Lys1,Pro2,5,Arg3,4,Tyr6] vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)(7-28), a VIP receptor antagonist, but they were significantly antagonized by atropine or guanethidine, a blocker of adrenergic neurotransmission. The joint application of atropine and guanethidine did not produce any additive effects on menthol effects. Phentolamine, an α-adrenoceptor antagonist, but not propranolol, a β-adrenoceptor antagonist, significantly reduced menthol responses and the contemporary administration of both adrenergic antagonists did not produce additive effects. Menthol (1-100 μM) produced a reduction of the electrically-evoked cholinergic contractions, which was prevented by guanethidine. Menthol did not affect the contractions induced by carbachol. In conclusion, menthol in mouse, is able to reduce the rate of gastric emptying and to relax the stomach in vitro. The latter effect appears due, almost in part, to neural mechanisms, with involvement of α-adrenoceptors leading to reduction of tonic ongoing release of acetylcholine.


Acetylcholine; Enteric nervous system; Gastric emptying; Menthol; Noradrenergic pathway; Stomach

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