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Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Sep 1;617(1-3):102-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2009.06.046. Epub 2009 Jul 1.

Tanshinone II(A) elicited vasodilation in rat coronary arteriole: roles of nitric oxide and potassium channels.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, 2nd Xiangya Hospital of Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, PR China.


Salvia miltiorrhiza has been widely used in the treatment of various cardiovascular diseases due to its ability to improve coronary microcirculation and increase coronary blood flow. Tanshinone II(A), the major active lipophilic ingredient responsible for the beneficial actions of Salvia miltiorrhiza, was shown to induce vasodilation in coronary arteries. But its effects on coronary arterioles remain unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of tanshinone II(A) on isolated rat coronary arteriole and the underlying mechanisms. Coronary arterioles were carefully dissected, cannulated and pressurized. Tanshinone II(A)-elicited vascular inner diameter change was recorded by a computerized diameter tracking system. To investigate the mechanisms governing the vasodilative effects of tanshinone II(A), the roles of endothelium, endothelium-derived vasoactive factors and potassium channels were assessed respectively. Endothelium denudation, inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), inhibition of the cytochrome P450 epoxygenase, and blockade of the large conductance calcium(Ca(2+))-activated potassium channels (BKca) significantly decreased the vasodilation elicited by Tanshinone II(A). The results indicated that tanshinone II(A) induces an endothelium-dependent vasodilation in coronary arterioles; nitric oxide (NO) and cytochrome P450 metabolites contribute to the vasodilation; activation of BKca channels plays an important role in the vasodilation.

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