The traditional Japanese medicine rikkunshito ameliorates the nitric oxide-associated delay in gastric emptying. Whether rikkunshito affects gastric motility associated with 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin: 5-HT) receptors or dopamine receptors is unknown. We examined the effects of rikkunshito on the delay in gastric emptying induced by 5-HT or dopamine using the phenol red method in male Wistar rats. 5-HT (0.01–1.0 mg kg−1, i.p.) dose dependently delayed gastric emptying, similar to the effect of the 5-HT3 receptor agonist 1-(3-chlorophenyl) biguanide (0.01–1.0 mg kg−1, i.p.). Dopamine also dose dependently delayed gastric emptying. The 5-HT3 receptor antagonist ondansetron (0.04–4.0 mg kg−1) and rikkunshito (125–500 mg kg−1) significantly suppressed the delay in gastric emptying caused by 5-HT or 1-(3-chlorophenyl) biguanide. Hesperidin (the most active ingredient in rikkunshito) suppressed the 5-HT-induced delayed gastric emptying in a dose-dependent manner, the maximum effect of which was similar to that of ondansetron (0.4 mg kg−1). The improvement obtained by rikkunshito or ondansetron in delaying gastric emptying was completely blocked by pretreatment with atropine. Rikkunshito appears to improve delay in gastric emptying via the antagonistic action of the 5-HT3 receptor pathway
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