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Vascul Pharmacol. 2007 Apr;46(4):271-7. Epub 2006 Nov 18.

Relaxant effects of danshen aqueous extract and its constituent danshensu on rat coronary artery are mediated by inhibition of calcium channels.

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Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong.


In this study, we have investigated the actions of danshensu, an active, water-extractable component of the medicinal herb danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza), on rat isolated coronary artery rings precontracted with 1 microM 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) and its action compared to the water-extractable fraction of the herb. Extraction of the water-soluble fraction from danshen (S. miltiorrhiza) provided yield of 17.5% (35 g/200 g). The amount of danshensu determined in the crude danshen herb and in its aqueous fraction was 0.45 mg/g (0.045%) and 3.28 mg/g (0.33%). The danshen aqueous extract was 13 times less potent than danshensu in relaxing 5-HT-precontracted coronary artery rings; IC50 values were 930.3+/-133.5 microg/ml and 71.5+/-11.0 microg/ml. Removal of the endothelium did not significantly affect their vasodilator potencies; IC50 values were 842.1+/-123.8 microg/ml and 84.8+/-8.8 microg/ml. On the other hand, a potassium channel inhibitor tetraethylammonium (TEA, 10 mM) shifted their concentration-response curves by 1.7 and 2.2 folds. The possible involvement of Ca2+ channels was investigated in artery rings incubated with Ca2+-free buffer and primed with 1 microM 5-HT or 60 mM KCl for 5 min prior to addition of CaCl2 to elicit contraction. In 5-HT-primed preparations, the CaCl2-induced vasoconstriction was abolished by 2 mg/ml danshen aqueous extract and 200 microg/ml danshensu, whereas, in KCl-primed preparations, 10 mg/ml danshen aqueous extract and 600 microg/ml danshensu were required to abrogate the vasoconstriction. These findings suggest the vasorelaxant actions of danshen aqueous extract and danshensu were produced by inhibition of Ca2+ influx in the vascular smooth muscle cells. The opening of K+ channels had a minor contribution to the response, but endothelium-dependent mechanisms were not involved.

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