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Eur J Pharmacol. 2011 Jan 10;650(1):275-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2010.07.038. Epub 2010 Sep 17.

Tanshinone IIA attenuates atherosclerosis in ApoE(-/-) mice through down-regulation of scavenger receptor expression.

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Laboratory of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510080, People's Republic of China.


This study is designed to investigate the protection of tanshinone IIA (TSIIA) against atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E deficient (ApoE(-/-)) mice and to explore the mechanisms by focusing on the expressions of scavenger receptors, scavenger receptor-A (SR-A) and CD36. The in vivo study demonstrated that TSIIA (10-90mg/kg) inhibited the atherosclerotic lesions, down-regulated the CD68 protein expression in lesion and decreased the contents of cholesterol in aortas of ApoE(-/-) mice. In addition, TSIIA reduced the serum levels of oxidized LDL (oxLDL) and down-regulated the mRNA expression of CD36, SR-A and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) in aortas. The in vitro study showed that TSIIA (0.1-10μM) decreased cholesterol level and DiI-oxLDL uptake in mouse peritoneal macrophages treated with oxLDL (50μg/ml). In addition, TSIIA down-regulated the mRNA and protein expression of CD36 but not that of SR-A in oxLDL treated macrophages. TSIIA also down-regulated the mRNA expression of PPARγ in oxLDL treated macrophages. Furthermore, TSIIA reduced the mRNA expression of CD36 in macrophages treated with PPARγ agonist 15d-PGJ(2) (2μM) or troglitazone (50μM), whereas both 15d-PGJ(2) (0.5-1.5μM) and troglitazone (5-20μM) dose-dependently abolished the down-regulation of CD36 expression by TSIIA in oxLDL treated macrophages. These results suggest that TSIIA attenuates the atherosclerotic lesion in ApoE(-/-) mice, which might be attributed to the properties of both anti-oxidation and down-regulation of scavenger receptors. Furthermore, antagonism of PPARγ might be involved in the down-regulation of CD36 by TSIIA.

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