Effect of phenolphthalein on monkey intestinal water and electrolyte transport

D. W. Powell, P. T. Johnson, J. C. Bryson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


To assess Na-K-ATPase inhibition and prostaglandin synthesis stimulation as the mechanism of the secretory (cathartic) action of phenolphthalein in the primate, we investigated water and electrolyte transport and Na-K-ATPase levels in monkey intestine. Both jejunum and colon were studied with in vivo perfusion and in vitro Ussing chamber techniques. Water, Na, and Cl absorption was inhibited or secretion was induced by phenolphthalein (10-3 M) in the jejunum and colon when the drug was present in the mucosal bathing (perfusion) solution. Serosal addition of phenolphthalein (10-4 or 10-3 M) induced Na and anion absorption in the jejunum but not in the colon. Phenolphthalein inhibited Na-K-ATPase activity in the test tube, but assays of intestine previously perfused or bathed in the drug showed no inhibition. Indomethacin, in doses sufficient to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis in the intestine, inhibited the secretion induced by phenolphthalein in the jejunum but not in the colon. These inconsistencies cast doubt on the role of Na-K-ATPase inhibition or the role of prostaglandin synthesis stimulation in the mechanism of action of phenolphthalein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G268-G275
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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