Kavalactones from Kava (Piper methysticum) root extract as modulators of recombinant human glycine receptors.Biol Chem. 2019 08 27; 400(9):1205-1215.BC
Roots of kava (Piper methysticum) plant are used in almost all Pacific Ocean cultures to prepare a drink with sedative, anesthetic and euphoric properties. One of the main active ingredients of the extract are kava lactones. Here, kava root CO2 extract and three kavalactones, DL-kavain, dihydrokavain and yangonin (isolated from whole extract by column chromatography) were tested for their inhibitory action on recombinant homomeric human α1 glycine receptors expressed in HEK293 cells. Kava CO2 root extract, as well as the individual components DL-kavain, dihydrokavain and yangonin inhibited glycine receptor activity in a dose-dependent manner. DL-kavain was the most potent inhibitor (IC50 = 0.077 ± 0.002 mm), followed by yangonin (IC50 = 0.31 ± 0.04 mm) and dihydrokavain (IC50 = 3.23 ± 0.10 mm) which were 4- and 40-fold less active than DL-kavain, respectively. Application of kava root extract did not reduce maximum currents, but increased EC50 of glycine. Simultaneous application of kava extract and strychnine showed additive inhibition, suggesting that binding of kavalactones and strychnine on the receptor is mutually exclusive. Overall, kavalactones exert a moderate inhibitory effect on the human α1 glycine receptor with DL-kavain being the most potent constituent.