The multi-herbal drug STW 5 (Iberogast®) has prosecretory action in the human intestine


Professor Michael Schemann, Human Biology, Technische Universität München, Hochfeldweg 2, D-85350 Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany.
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Abstract  There is growing evidence that STW 5 (Iberogast®, fixed combination of hydroethanolic herbal extracts), besides being effective in functional dyspepsia, also improves symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Clinical data indicate that modulation of mucosal secretion is a promising approach to treat intestinal disorders associated with IBS. We therefore explored the effect of STW 5 on secretion in the human intestine and the mechanisms by which it acts. The Ussing chamber technique was used to measure mucosal secretion in human intestinal mucosa/submucosa preparations and in human epithelial cell line T84. In addition, we recorded STW 5 effects on human enteric neurons with voltage sensitive dye imaging. In human tissue and T84 cells STW 5 induced a dose-dependent increase in ion secretion that was significantly reduced by the Na–K–Cl cotransporter blocker bumetanide, the adenylate cyclase inhibitor MDL-12 330, the non-specific and selective cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) inhibitors glibenclamide and CFTRinh-172, respectively, and the blocker of calcium dependent Cl channels (ClCa) SITS (4-acetamido-4-isothiocyanatostilbene-2,2-disulphonic acid). It was unaffected by amiloride, a blocker of epithelial Na+ channels. In human tissue, the nerve blocker tetrodotoxin significantly suppressed the STW 5 response. STW 5 evoked an increased spike discharge in 51% of human submucous neurons. Results suggest that STW 5 is a secretogogue in the human intestine by direct epithelial actions and through activation of enteric neurons. The prosecretory effect is due to increased epithelial Cl fluxes via CFTR and Ca-dependent ClCa channels. STW 5 may be a novel option to treat secretory disorders associated with IBS and constipation.