Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Jan 2;24(1):783.doi: 10.3390/ijms24010783.

Imperatorin Improves Obesity-Induced Cardiac Sympathetic Nerve Injury Mediated by P2X4 Receptor in Stellate Sympathetic Ganglion

Mingming Zhang  1 Yuqing Wen  1 Peiwen Liang  2 Changsen Yang  3 Hongcheng Tu  4 Jingyi Wei  4 Junpei Du  1 Ting Zhan  1 Shangdong Liang  1   5 Guodong Li  1 Yun Gao  1   5



  • 1 Department of Physiology, Basic Medical College, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330006, China.
  • 2 Second Clinic Medical College, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330006, China.
  • 3 Joint Program of Nanchang University and Queen Mary University of London, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330006, China.
  • 4 Basic Medical College, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330006, China.
  • 5 Jiangxi Provincial Key Laboratory of Autonomic Nervous Function and Disease, Nanchang 330006, China.

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Obesity can activate the inflammatory signal pathway, induce in the body a state of chronic inflammation, and increase the excitability of the sympathetic nervous system, which may induce sympathetic neuropathic injury. The stellate sympathetic ganglia (SG) can express the P2X4 receptor, and the abnormal expression of the P2X4 receptor is related to inflammation. Imperatorin (IMP) is a kind of furan coumarin plant which has anti-inflammatory effects. This project aimed to investigate whether IMP can affect the expression of P2X4 receptors in the SG of obese rats to display a protective effect from high-fat-triggered cardiac sympathetic neuropathic injury. Molecular docking through homology modelling revealed that IMP had good affinity for the P2X4 receptor. Our results showed that compared with the normal group, the administration of IMP or P2X4 shRNA decreased sympathetic excitement; reduced the serum levels of triglyceride, total cholesterol, and lactate dehydrogenase; downregulated the expression of P2X4 receptors in SG; and inhibited the expression of inflammatory factors in the SG and serum of obese rats significantly. In addition, the expression of factors associated with the cell pyroptosis GSDMD, caspase-1, NLRP-3, and IL-18 in obese rats were significantly higher than those of the normal rats, and such effects were decreased after treatment with IMP or P2X4 shRNA. Furthermore, IMP significantly reduced the ATP-activated currents in HEK293 cells transfected with P2X4 receptor. Thus, the P2X4 receptor may be a key target for the treatment of obesity-induced cardiac sympathetic excitement. IMP can improve obesity-induced cardiac sympathetic excitement, and its mechanism of action may be related to the inhibition of P2X4 receptor expression and activity in the SG, suppression of cellular pyroptosis in the SG, and reduction of inflammatory factor levels.

Keywords: P2X4 receptor; imperatorin; obesity; pyroptosis; stellate sympathetic ganglia; sympathetic excitement.