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Open Access Research article

Ectopic expression of human acidic fibroblast growth factor 1 in the medicinal plant, Salvia miltiorrhiza, accelerates the healing of burn wounds

YaQing Tan1, Kevin Yueju Wang2, Nan Wang1, GangQiang Li1 and DeHu Liu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Biotechnology Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, 12 Southern Zhong Guan Cun Road, Beijing 100081, China

2 Department of Natural Sciences, Northeastern State University, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma 74014, USA

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BMC Biotechnology 2014, 14:74  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-14-74

Published: 9 August 2014



Healing of burns is a complex process and very few effective treatments exist to facilitate the burn recovery process. Human acidic fibroblast growth factor 1 (FGF-1) plays an important role in a variety of biological processes, including angiogenesis, and tissue repair. Salvia miltiorrhiza is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine as an herb for the treatment of various diseases, including cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, and traumatic injuries. We present that expression of FGF-1 in S. miltiorrhiza significantly accelerates the healing of burn wounds.


The human fgf-1 gene was fused with a barley α-amylase signal peptide DNA sequence and driven by a 35S promoter for constitutive expression in transgenic S. miltiorrhiza plants. The highest yield of recombinant FGF-1 obtained from leaves of transgenic S. miltiorrhiza lines was 272 ng/fresh weight. Aqueous extracts from transgenic S. miltiorrhiza exhibited FGF-1 activity approximately 19.2-fold greater than that of the standard FGF-1. Compared to the standard FGF-1 or the extracts obtained from non-transgenic plants, it stimulated proliferation of Balb/c 3 T3 mouse fibroblast cells assessed with the standard MTT assay and promoted angiogenesis in the chicken embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay. Topical application of the extract significantly accelerated the burn wound healing process.


The product appears to retain the biological activity of both FGF-1 as well as the medicinal properties of the plant. The extracts from transgenic S. miltiorrhiza combines the therapeutic functions of FGF-1 and the medicinal plant, S. miltiorrhiza. Topical application of the product can reduce the costs associated with extraction, purification, and recovery.

Human acidic fibroblast growth factor 1; Medicinal plant; Salvia miltiorrhiza; Burn wound healing