Arecoline is the main pharmacological alkaloid of areca (betel) nut, which is a traditional medical herb widely used in tropical and subtropical countries, and has several cholinomimetic effects with parasympathetic features. This study was aimed to determine the role of arecoline on systemic blood pressure (BP) modulation and the modulatory characteristics. After rats were anaesthetized, saline or arecoline was intravenously administrated, and the systemic BP signals were recorded. We calculated the reaction times, the mean arterial pressure (MAP), the maximum changes in MAP, and the area under the curve (AUC; MAP change relative to the reaction time) due to arecoline stimulations. The results showed that arecoline induced biphasic modulations in BP, including an initial downregulation (Period 1) and a subsequent upregulation (Period 2), with a concentration-dependent prolonging of reaction times, decreased MAP in Period 1 and increased MAP in Period 2, and elevated maximum changes in MAPs and AUCs. This study provides important evidence that arecoline causes biphasic modulations on systemic BP, which provide basic data for future investigations on the pharmacological characteristics and mechanisms of arecoline action, and raise great concerns regarding the cardiovascular effects of arecoline treatment in clinical practice.
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