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BMC Complement Altern Med. 2008 Jul 14;8:39. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-8-39.

Protective effects of a compound herbal extract (Tong Xin Luo) on free fatty acid induced endothelial injury: implications of antioxidant system.

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Michael E, DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Heart Institute, Houston, Texas, USA.



Tong-Xin-Luo (TXL) - a mixture of herbal extracts, has been used in Chinese medicine with established therapeutic efficacy in patients with coronary artery disease.


We investigated the protective role of TXL extracts on endothelial cells injured by a known risk factor - palmitic acid (PA), which is elevated in metabolic syndrome and associated with cardiovascular complications. Human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs) were preconditioned with TXL extracts before exposed to PA for 24 hours.


We found that PA (0.5 mM) exposure induced 73% apoptosis in endothelial cells. However, when HAECs were preconditioned with ethanol extracted TXL (100 microg/ml), PA induced only 7% of the endothelial cells into apoptosis. Using antibody-based protein microarray, we found that TXL attenuated PA-induced activation of p38-MAPK stress pathway. To investigate the mechanisms involved in TXL's protective effects, we found that TXL reduced PA-induced intracellular oxidative stress. Through AMPK pathway, TXL restored the intracellular antioxidant system, which was depressed by the PA treatment, with an increased expression of thioredoxin and a decreased expression of the thioredoxin interacting protein.


In summary, our study demonstrates that TXL protects endothelial cells from PA-induced injury. This protection is likely mediated by boosting intracellular antioxidant capacity through AMPK pathway, which may account for the therapeutic efficacy in TXL-mediated cardiovascular protection.

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