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Phytomedicine. 2012 Dec 15;20(1):9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2012.09.006. Epub 2012 Oct 17.

Herbal formula Astragali Radix and Rehmanniae Radix exerted wound healing effect on human skin fibroblast cell line Hs27 via the activation of transformation growth factor (TGF-β) pathway and promoting extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition.

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Department of Biology and Chemistry, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong.


Astragali Radix (AR) and Rehmanniae Radix (RR) have long been used in traditional Chinese Medicine and as the principal herbs in treating diabetic foot ulcer. In this study, we investigated the effect of NF3, which comprises of AR and RR in the ratio of 2:1(w/w), on skin fibroblast cell migration and the activation of selected genes and proteins related to wound healing. Human skin fibroblast cell line Hs27 was treated with NF3 at 4 mg/ml for 24h, and in vitro scratch wound healing and quantitative cell migration assays were performed, respectively. The expression of transformation growth factor (TGF-β1) and bone morphogenetic protein 6 (BMP6) in Hs27 cells with or without NF3 treatment was analyzed by western blot analysis. In addition, the expression of a panel of genes involved in human TGF-β signaling pathway was analyzed in Hs27 cells upon NF3 treatment (4 mg/ml, 24 h) by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). Furthermore, the expression of several genes and proteins associated with ECM synthesis was investigated by qRT-PCR analysis or/and ELISA techniques. The results suggested that NF3 promoted the migration of human skin fibroblast cells. Western blot analysis demonstrated that NF3 up-regulated TGF-β1 and BMP-6 synthesis. qRT-PCR analysis revealed that the expression of 26 genes in Hs27 cells was changed upon NF3 induction, including TGF-β superfamily ligands and down stream effectors genes, and genes involved in TGF/Smad pathway, and Ras/MAPK (non-Smad) pathway. Among the extracellular matrix (ECM)-related molecules, it was found that NF3 up-regulated the expression of type I and III collagens, fibronectin as well as TIMP-1, and down-regulated the MMP-9 expression in skin fibroblast cells. This study demonstrated that herb formula NF3 could enhance skin fibroblast cell migration and activated genes involved in TGF-β1 pathway. NF3 could regulate gene transcription for extracellular matrix synthesis via the Smad pathway, and gene transcription for cell motility via the Ras/MAPK (non-Smad) pathway.

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