Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Phillip Gerk


R-(-)-Phenylephrine (PE) is the most commonly used nonprescription oral nasal decongestant in the United States. It is a selective α1-adrenergic receptor agonist and has many years of safe usage. However, the efficacy of PE is controversial, due to its extensive pre-systemic metabolism, which leads to low and variable oral bioavailability (38 ± 9%, mean ± SD). Sulfation plays a very important role in pre-systemic metabolism of PE. The sulfation of PE occurs at its phenolic group, which is the preferred structural feature of many sulfotransferase (SULT) substrates. Compounds with phenolic groups have similar structures to PE, which may share the same SULT isoforms with PE and have the potential to inhibit PE sulfation. Co-administration of the phenolic compounds from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) list, Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS), or dietary supplements along with PE could be an effective strategy to inhibit the pre-systemic sulfation of PE. The primary side effect of PE is hypertension. Since monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors may increase the risk of hypertension, they should not be taken with PE. In order to increase the oral bioavailability and eventually improve the efficacy of PE, this research project aimed to investigate the feasibility of inhibiting the pre-systemic sulfation of PE with phenolic dietary compounds. Considering the safety issue, this research project also aimed to investigate whether these phenolic dietary compounds have inhibitory effects on MAO-A/B. A human colon adenocarcinoma epithelial cell line (LS180), which shows sulfation activity, was used as a model to test the effect of these phenolic compounds on the sulfation of PE. The extent of disappearance of PE was significantly (p < 0.05) decreased to the following (mean ± SEM, as % of control) when incubated with phenolic dietary compounds in LS180 cells for 14 - 19 hrs: curcumin 24.5 ± 14.0%, guaiacol 51.3 ± 8.0%, isoeugenol 73.9 ± 4.3%, pterostilbene 70.6 ± 4.2%, resveratrol 14.2 ± 28.0%, zingerone 52.4 ± 14.6%, and the combinations eugenol + propylparaben 42.6 ± 8.4%, vanillin + propylparaben 37.0 ± 11.2%, eugenol + propylparaben + vanillin + ascorbic acid 31.1 ± 10.9%, eugenol + vanillin 57.5 ± 20.6%, and pterostilbene + zingerone 36.5 ± 7.0%. The combinations of curcumin + resveratrol and curcumin + pterostilbene + resveratrol + zingerone almost completely inhibited PE disappearance. PE sulfate formation was inhibited 67.0 ± 4.2% (mean ± SEM, as % of control) by guaiacol and 71.7 ± 2.6% by pterostilbene + zingerone. The combinations of curcumin + resveratrol and curcumin + pterostilbene + resveratrol + zingerone inhibited ≥ 99% of PE sulfate formation. These results were consistent with those from analysis of the disappearance of PE in LS180 cells. These phenolic inhibitors for sulfation were also tested to see whether they have any inhibitory effects on MAO-A or B. Significant inhibition was found with curcumin, guaiacol, isoeugenol, pterostilbene, resveratrol, and zingerone on both MAO-A and B. Further kinetic studies were conducted to investigate the concentration of an inhibitor at which the enzyme activity is reduced by half (IC50) (mean ± SEM) of these inhibitors. The most potent inhibitor for MAO-A was resveratrol (0.313 ± 0.008 μM) followed by isoeugenol (3.72 ± 0.20 μM), curcumin (12.9 ± 1.3 μM), pterostilbene (13.4 ± 1.5 μM), zingerone (16.3 ± 1.1 μM), and guaiacol (131 ± 6 μM). The most potent inhibitor for MAO-B was pterostilbene (0.138 ± 0.013 μM), followed by curcumin (6.30 ± 0.11 μM), resveratrol (15.8 ± 1.3 μM), isoeugenol (102 ± 5 μM), and guaiacol (322 ± 27 μM). Since these phenolic compounds all have relatively low oral bioavailability, any MAO inhibition which could occur systemically is expected to be limited. Most inhibitory effects on MAO-A and B if any would be limited to the GI tract and liver. In conclusion, several compounds and combinations showed inhibition on PE sulfation in LS180 cell model, which may have potential to inhibit the pre-systemic sulfation of PE to improve its oral bioavailability. These compounds also showed the unexpected inhibition on human MAO-A and B with different potency, which could guide the selection of phenolic dietary compounds for further studies, along with the sulfation inhibition results and their pharmacokinetic (PK) properties such as bioavailability.


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