The extracts of Korean red ginseng (EKG) is a complex mixture containing ginsenosides, polysaccharides, and several other products. Animal experiments have shown that the intravenous administration of extract of ginseng reduces blood pressure. Recently, it has been reported that ginseng has a relaxing effect on vascular smooth muscle and that the relaxation is associated with nitric oxide (NO) released from the vascular endothelium. The present study was undertaken to investigate the effects of EKG on isolated rabbit corpus cavernosal smooth muscle for evaluation of the possibility of developing EKG as an pharmacoerecting agent. Strips of rabbit corpus cavernosum were mounted in organ chambers to measure isometric tension. On the precontracted muscle strip with phenylephrine (PHE; 5 x 10-6 M), EKG began to exert a relaxing effect at the concentration of 1 mg/ml and the maximal relaxation effect was reached at 40 mg/ml in a dose-dependent manner. EKG was inhibited significantly by endothelial disruption and by pretreatment with methylene blue, pyrogallol, L-NNA or atropine. EKG partially inhibited the PHE (5 x 10-6 M) induced contraction up to 45.67% of the control in a dose-dependent fashion. EKG decreased basal tension as well as inhibited the contraction induced by addition of CaCl2 (10-3 M) dose-dependently in muscle strips at basal equilibrated state in Ca2+ free, high K+ depolarizing solution. EKG also inhibited the contraction induced by depolarization with 20, 40 and 60 mM of KCl. However, this inhibitory effect did not occur with high concentrations of KCl (80 and 120 mM). EKG has a relaxing effect on the rabbit corpus cavernosal tissue in a dose dependent manner. The relaxation action of EKG is mediated by multiple action mechanisms that include increasing the release of NO from the corporal sinusoids, increasing intracellular calcium sequestration, and a hyperpolarizing action.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the Society for Korean Ginseng.
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