Protective effects of Danshensu from the aqueous extract of Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen) against homocysteine-induced endothelial dysfunction.Life Sci. 2004 Nov 12; 75(26):3157-71.LS
Homocysteine (Hcy) is a by-product of methionine metabolism. An imbalance of Hcy in the body may lead to hyperhomocysteinemia, a condition with elevated Hcy concentration in blood that may be one of the risk factors responsible for the development of several vascular diseases (thromboembolism, atherosclerosis, stroke, vascular diseases and dementia). Radix Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen), a well-known Chinese medicinal herb that can activate and improve blood microcirculation, is noticeable for its beneficial effect in treating cardiovascular diseases. The present study is to demonstrate the protective effect of Danshen extract against the homocysteine-induced adverse effect on human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC). Homocysteine (5 mM) not only decreased the cell viability but also caused the disruption of capillary-like structure formation in vitro. The protective effect of Danshen aqueous extract and its active compounds on endothelial cell function were demonstrated through an in vitro tube formation assay, which mimics the new blood vessel formation. To identify the active components in the aqueous extract of Danshen, the content was characterized by instrumental analysis using high performance liquid chromatography with diode array detector (DAD) and electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS). Interestingly, Danshen extract and its pure compounds showed different effectiveness in protecting HUVEC against Hcy-induced injury according to the following descending order: Danshen aqueous extract, 3-(3,4-dihydroxy-phenyl)-2-hydroxy-propionic acid (Danshensu), protocatechuic acid, catechin and protocatechualdehyde. We believed that such findings might provide evidence in understanding the beneficial effects of Danshen on the cardiovascular system.