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G protein-coupled receptor mediates the action of castor oil
Date:5/21/2012

icinoleic acid on various cell cultures. Following this, the researchers at Bad Nauheim began a more detailed investigation. Hundreds of receptors were systematically turned off, and then the reaction of the cells to ricinoleic acid tested. Ultimately, they succeeded in identifying the key receptor with the name EP3.

"Experiments with mice in which the EP3 receptor had previously been specifically turned off by a genetic operation provided us with convincing proof", explains Sorin Tunaru. "Unlike their genetically unchanged fellow species, after being given castor oil or even just ricinoleic acid, the mice without the EP3 receptor exhibited no increased defecation." And in pregnant animals, no increased labour was found, which suggests that in both cases the EP3 receptor is responsible.

The Max Planck scientists concluded from this that after being released from the castor oil, the ricinoleic acid is first of all absorbed by the body via the intestinal mucosa; the EP3 receptor then becomes active on the muscle cells of the intestine and uterus, which in turn stimulates intestinal activity and labour.

In Stefan Offermanns' opinion, the light shed on the action mechanism of this old drug could lead to a reassessment of its clinical use. "Castor oil is still widely used in alternative and folk medicine. However, in conventional medicine it has been decreasingly propagated in the last few decades, not least because the action mechanism was unclear. The results of our study could be a factor in this changing again."

There is also the hope that for the synthetic active ingredients already used today new areas of application will open up. For example, today, substances are also used which we have identified for the ricinoleic acid that activate the responsible receptor to in-crease labour. It is conceivable that mild-action drugs could be developed from these substances to cleanse the intestine or promote intestinal activity. At any ra
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Contact: Professor Dr. Stefan Offermanns
stefan.offermanns@mpi-bn.mpg.de
49-603-270-51202
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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