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Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2011 Nov;9(11):1179-84.

[Icariin and its pharmaceutical efficacy: research progress of molecular mechanism].

[Article in Chinese]

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Institute of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai 200040, China.


Icariin is one of the key active components of Epimedium species, which is most widely applied to supplement the kidney in traditional Chinese medicine. Scientific research has found that icariin possesses extensive therapeutic effects such as protecting neurons from injury, promoting growth of neuronal synapse, improving sexual dysfunction and bone morphogenesis, as well as anti-inflammation, anti-tumor and anti-depression functions. Considering that molecular mechanism is the fundamental basis for pharmaceutical efficacy of icariin, in this article, the authors retrospectively retrieved 122 scientific papers recorded in the PubMed database with "icariin" in the title from January 1, 1995 to January 5, 2011. It was found that icariin has been closely highlighted in the intervention of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt signal pathways, inhibition of phosphodiesterase 5, and regulation of nuclear receptors. Besides, the authors also discussed the main orientation for molecular mechanism of icariin in future research.

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