Planta Med 2003; 69(8): 770-772
DOI: 10.1055/s-2003-42784
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

The Xanthones Gentiacaulein and Gentiakochianin are Responsible for the Vasodilator Action of the Roots of Gentiana kochiana

Silvio Chericoni1 , Lara Testai2 , Vincenzo Calderone2 , Guido Flamini1 , Paola Nieri2 , Ivano Morelli1 , Enrica Martinotti2
  • 1Dipartimento di Chimica Bioorganica, Università di Pisa, Pisa, Italy
  • 2Dipartimento di Psichiatria, Neurobiologia, Farmacologia e Biotecnologie, Università di Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Further Information

Publication History

Received: December 2, 2002

Accepted: March 29, 2003

Publication Date:
06 October 2003 (online)


Gentiana kochiana Perr. et Song. (Gentianaceae), a plant used in the traditional medicine of Tuscany (Italy) as antihypertensive remedy, exerts a vasodilator action on in vitro aortic rings that is probably linked to the blocking of the ryanodine-sensitive Ca++ channels.

In the present study, three known xanthones were isolated from the crude methanolic extract of the roots: gentiacaulein, gentiakochianin, and swertiaperennin. The first two showed a vasorelaxing activity in rat aortic preparations, pre-contracted by 3 μM norepinephrine (pIC50 = 5.00 ± 0.032 for gentiacaulein, pIC50 = 4.95 ± 0.068 for gentiakochianin), 20 mM KCl (pIC50 = 4.90 ± 0.15 for gentiacaulein; 4.59 ± 0.069 for gentiakochianin), or 5 mM caffeine; on the contrary, in the same conditions, swertiaperennin did not show any vasodilator effect.

In conclusion, gentiacaulein and gentiakochianin seem to be the compounds responsible for the vasorelaxing properties of the crude extract of Gentiana kochiana roots.


Prof. Enrica Martinotti

Dipartimento di Psichiatria, Neurobiologia, Farmacologia e Biotecnologie

Università di Pisa

via Bonanno 6

56126 Pisa


Phone: +39-50-24092

Fax: +39-50-503534