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Open Access Research article

Anti-atherosclerotic function of Astragali Radix extract: downregulation of adhesion molecules in vitro and in vivo

Yang You12, Yan Duan1, Shao-wei Liu1, Xiao-lin Zhang1, Xiu-li Zhang3, Jia-tao Feng3, Cheng-hui Yan1 and Ya-ling Han14*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Cardiology, Cardiovascular Research Institute, Shenyang Northern Hospital, Shenyang, China

2 The Affiliated Hospital of Liaoning University of TCM, Shenyang, China

3 Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Dalian, China

4 Department of Cardiology, Shenyang General Hospital, 83 Wenhua Road, Shenyang 110840, China

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:54  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-54

Published: 26 April 2012

Abstract

Background

Atherosclerosis is considered to be a chronic inflammatory disease. Astragali Radix extract (ARE) is one of the major active ingredients extracted from the root of Astragalus membranaceus Bge. Although ARE has an anti-inflammatory function, its anti-atherosclerotic effects and mechanisms have not yet been elucidated.

Methods

Murine endothelial SVEC4-10 cells were pretreated with different doses of ARE at different times prior to induction with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. Cell adhesion assays were performed using THP-1 cells and assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, western blotting and immunofluorescence analyses to detect the expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), phosphorylated inhibitor of κB (p-iκB) and nuclear factor (NF)-κB. We also examined the effect of ARE on atherosclerosis in the aortic endothelium of apolipoprotein E-deficient (apoE−/−) mice.

Results

TNF-α strongly increased the expression of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 accompanied by increased expression of p-iκB and NF-κB proteins. However, the expression levels of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 were reduced by ARE in dose- and time-dependent manners, with the strongest effect at a dose of 120 μg/ml incubated for 4 h. This was accompanied by significantly decreased expression of p-iκB and inhibited activation of NF-κB. Immunofluorescence analysis also revealed that oral administration of ARE resulted in downregulation of adhesion molecules and decreased expression of macrophages in the aortic endothelium of apoE−/− mice. ARE could suppress the inflammatory reaction and inhibit the progression of atherosclerotic lesions in apoE−/− mice.

Conclusion

This study demonstrated that ARE might be an effective anti-inflammatory agent for the treatment of atherosclerosis, possibly acting via the decreased expression of adhesion molecules.

Keywords:
Astragali Radix extract; Vascular cell adhesion molecule-1; Vntercellular adhesion molecule-1; Apolipoprotein E-deficient mice; Atherosclerosis