Points - Recent Research
Acupuncture to Danzhong but not to Zhongting Increases the Cardiac Vagal Component of Heart Rate Variability
Psoralen (Bu Gu Zhi) Stimulates Osteoblast Differentiation Through Activation of BMP Signaling
Astragaloside IV Synergizes with Ferulic Acid to Inhibit Renal Tubulointerstitial Fibrosis in Rats with Obstructive Nephropathy

Acupuncture to Danzhong but not to Zhongting Increases the Cardiac Vagal Component of Heart Rate Variability

Kurono Y, et al. The Oriental Medical Center, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan

There is currently no convincing evidence that acupuncture has any specific effects on autonomic nervous function as assessed by heart rate variability (HRV). We examined whether the stimulation of neighboring acupunctural points, Danzhong (CV17) and Zhongting (CV16) on the anterior median line of the thorax, induced different effects on HRV. In 14 healthy males, epifascial acupunctural stimulation (single instantaneous needle stimulation on the fascial surface without producing De-Qi sensation) was performed at CV17 and CV16 on different days in a clinical study utilizing a cross-over design. We found that the stimulation of CV17, but not of CV16, decreased the heart rate (P=0.01, repeated measures ANOVA) and increased the power of the high-frequency component of the HRV, an index of cardiac vagal activity (P=0.01). The low-frequency to high-frequency ratio, an index of sympathetic activity showed no significant changes for either point. Our observations could not be explained as either nonspecific or psychological/placebo effects of needle stimulation. This study provides strong evidence for the presence of a specific acupunctural point that causes the modulation of cardiac autonomic function.

Auton Neurosci. 2011 Jan 6. [Epub ahead of print]

Source: PubMed

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Psoralen (Bu Gu Zhi) Stimulates Osteoblast Differentiation Through Activation of BMP Signaling

Tang DZ, et al. Spine Research Institute, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, 200032, PR China; Longhua Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, 200032, P.R. China; Department of Orthopaedics, Center for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.

Osteoporosis is a systemic skeletal disease characterized by low bone mass and microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue, with a consequent increase in bone fragility and susceptibility to fracture. In order to improve the treatment of osteoporosis, identification of anabolic and orally available agents with minimal side effects is highly desirable. Psoralen is a coumarin-like derivative extracted from Chinese herbs, which have been used to treat bone diseases for thousands of years. However, the role of Psoralen in osteoblast function and the underlying molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. In this study, we found that Psoralen promoted osteoblast differentiation in primary mouse calvarial osteoblasts in a dose-dependent manner, demonstrated by up-regulation of expressions of osteoblast-specific marker genes including type I collagen, osteocalcin and bone sialoprotein and enhancement of alkaline phosphatase activity. We further demonstrated that Psoralen up-regulated the expression of Bmp2 and Bmp4 genes, increased the protein level of phospho-Smad1/5/8, and activated BMP reporter (12xSBE-OC-Luc) activity in a dose-dependent manner, as well as enhanced the expression of Osx, the direct target gene of BMP signaling. Deletion of the Bmp2 and Bmp4 genes abolished the stimulatory effect of Psoralen on expression of osteoblast marker genes, such as Col1, Alp, Oc and Bsp. Our results suggest that Psoralen acts through activation of BMP signaling to promote osteoblast differentiation and demonstrate that Psoralen could be a potential anabolic agent to treat patients with bone loss-associated diseases such as osteoporosis.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Jan 7. [Epub ahead of print]

Source: PubMed

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Astragaloside IV Ssynergizes with Ferulic Acid to Inhibit Renal Tubulointerstitial Fibrosis in Rats with Obstructive Nephropathy

Meng L, et al. Renal Division, Department of Medicine, Peking University First Hospital; Peking University Institute of Nephrology; Key Laboratory of Renal Disease, Ministry of Health of China, Beijing 100034 PR. China State Key Laboratory of Natural and Biomimetic Drugs, Peking University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Beijing 100191 PR. China.

Background and purpose: The combination of Chinese herbs, Astragali Radix and Angelicae Sinensis Radix, could alleviate renal interstitial fibrosis. Astragaloside IV (AS-IV) and ferulic acid (FA) are the two major active constituents in this combination. In this study, we employed rats with unilateral ureteral obstruction to determine whether AS-IV and FA have the same renoprotective effects and investigated the mechanisms of this action. Experimental approach: Renal pathological changes were evaluated after treatment with AS-IV, FA, or AS-IV+FA (AF) for 10 days. Meanwhile, the expression of transforming growth factor β(1) (TGF-β(1) ), fibronectin, α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), phosphorylation of c-Jun-NH2-terminal kinase (p-JNK) and nitric oxide (NO) production in kidney were determined. The expressions of fibronectin, α-SMA, mitogen-activated protein kinases (JNK, ERK, P38) in TGF-β(1) -treated NRK-49F cells or interleukin-1-treated HK-2 cells after AS-IV, FA, or AF were assessed. Key results: AF alleviated the infiltration of mononuclear cells, tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis, reduced the expression of fibronectin, α-SMA, TGF-β(1) and p-JNK, and dramatically increased the production of NO in obstructed kidneys. Neither AS-IV nor FA alone improved renal damage but both increased NO production. AF inhibited α-SMA and fibronectin expression in NRK-49F or HK-2 cells. Further, AF significantly inhibited IL-1β-induced JNK phosphorylation, without affecting ERK or P38 phosphorylation. Neither AS-IV nor FA alone had any effect on the cells. Conclusions and Implications: AS-IV synergizes with FA to alleviate renal tubulointerstitial fibrosis; this was associated with inhibition of tubular epithelial-mesenchymal-transdifferentiation (EMT) and fibroblast activation, as well as an increase in NO production in the kidney.

Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Jan 14. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01206.x. [Epub ahead of print]

Source: PubMed

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