The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of formononetin and the related mechanisms on isolated rat thoracic aorta. Formononetin concentration dependently relaxed aortic rings precontracted with norepinephrine (NE, 1 μM) or KCl (80 mM). Pretreatment with formononetin noncompetitively inhibited contractile responses of aortas to NE and KCl. The vasorelaxant effect of formononetin partially relied on intact endothelia, which was significantly attenuated by incubation with N(ω)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (100 μM). In endothelium-denuded rings, glibenclamide (10 μM) and tetraethylammonium (5 mM) showed slight reduction in the vasorelaxant effect of formononetin. Moreover, formononetin reduced NE-induced transient contraction in Ca²⁺-free solution and inhibited the vasocontraction induced by increasing external calcium in medium plus 80 mM KCl. Our results suggested that formononetin induced relaxation in rat aortic rings through an endothelium-dependent manner via nitric oxide synthesis pathway, and also involving an endothelium-independent vasodilatation by the blockade of Ca²⁺ channels. The opening of K⁺ channels might also be one of the mechanisms of formononetin-induced vasorelaxation.
Journal of Asian natural products research 01/2012; 14(1):46-54. DOI:10.1080/10286020.2011.628939 · 0.97 Impact Factor