2016 Volume 39 Issue 1 Pages 104-113
The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of the traditional Japanese medicine yokukansan (YKS) on the function of dopamine (DA) in the rat nigrostriatal system. Unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesions were produced in the rat nigrostriatal system. Despite a marked loss in the striatal immunoreactivity of tyrosine hydroxylase on the lesion side, striatal serotonin (5-HT) immunoreactivity was not affected. Treatment using L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) in conjunction with benserazide for 15 d induced abnormal involuntary movements (AIMs) such as locomotive (rotational response), axial, forelimb, and orolingual movements in the lesioned rats. The L-DOPA-induced locomotive and axial, but not forelimb and orolingual, AIMs were significantly increased and prolonged by the pre-administration of YKS. We next investigated the effects of YKS on the production of DA from L-DOPA in 5-HT synthetic RIN 14B cells. RIN 14B cells produced DA and its metabolite, 3-methoxytyramine (3-MT), following L-DOPA treatment. YKS significantly augmented DA production and inhibited its metabolism to 3-MT in a manner similar to the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitor entacapone. YKS and some alkaloids (corynoxeine: CX, geissoschizine methyl ether: GM) in Uncaria hook, a constituent herb of YKS, also inhibited COMT activity, indicating that the augmenting effect of YKS on L-DOPA-induced DA production in 5-HT synthetic cells was due to the inhibition of COMT by CX and GM. Our results suggest that YKS facilitates the DA supplemental effect of L-DOPA, and that COMT inhibition by CX and GM contributes, at least in part, to the effects of YKS.