Publications by authors named "Xiaopeng Ai"

11 Publications

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Amelioration of diabetic retinopathy in db/db mice by treatment with different proportional three active ingredients from Tibetan medicine Berberis dictyophylla F.

J Ethnopharmacol 2021 Aug 6;276:114190. Epub 2021 May 6.

Innovative Institute of Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, 611137, China. Electronic address:

Ethnopharmacological Relevance: Berberis dictyophylla F., a famous Tibetan medicine, has been used to prevent and treat diabetic retinopathy (DR) for thousands of years in clinic. However, its underlying mechanisms remain unclear.

Aim Of The Study: The present study was designed to probe the synergistic protection and involved mechanisms of berberine, magnoflorine and berbamine from Berberis dictyophylla F. on the spontaneous retinal damage of db/db mice.

Materials And Methods: The 14-week spontaneous model of DR in db/db mice were randomly divided into eight groups: model group, calcium dobesilate (CaDob, 0.23 g/kg) group and groups 1-6 (different proportional three active ingredients from Berberis dictyophylla F.). All mice were intragastrically administrated for a continuous 12 weeks. Body weight and fasting blood glucose (FBG) were recorded and measured. Hematoxylin-eosin and periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) stainings were employed to evaluate the pathological changes and abnormal angiogenesis of the retina. ELISA was performed to assess the levels of IL-6, HIF-1α and VEGF in the serum. Immunofluorescent staining was applied to detect the protein levels of CD31, VEGF, p-p38, p-JNK, p-ERK and NF-κB in retina. In addition, mRNA expression levels of VEGF, Bax and Bcl-2 in the retina were monitored by qRT-PCR analysis.

Results: Treatment with different proportional three active ingredients exerted no significant effect on the weight, but decreased the FBG, increased the number of retinal ganglionic cells and restored internal limiting membrane. The results of PAS staining demonstrated that the drug treatment decreased the ratio of endothelial cells to pericytes while thinned the basal membrane of retinal vessels. Moreover, these different proportional active ingredients can markedly downregulate the protein levels of retinal CD31 and VEGF, and serum HIF-1α and VEGF. The gene expression of retinal VEGF was also suppressed. The levels of retinal p-p38, p-JNK and p-ERK proteins were decreased by drug treatment. Finally, drug treatment reversed the proinflammatory factors of retinal NF-κB and serum IL-6, and proapoptotic Bax gene expression, while increased antiapoptotic Bcl-2 gene expression.

Conclusions: These results indicated that DR in db/db mice can be ameliorated by treatment with different proportional three active ingredients from Berberis dictyophylla F. The potential vascular protection mechanisms may be involved in inhibiting the phosphorylation of the MAPK signaling pathway, thus decreasing inflammatory and apoptotic events.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2021.114190DOI Listing
August 2021

Targeting P2 receptors in purinergic signaling: a new strategy of active ingredients in traditional Chinese herbals for diseases treatment.

Purinergic Signal 2021 Jun 22;17(2):229-240. Epub 2021 Mar 22.

Innovative Institute of Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, China.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and its metabolites adenosine diphosphate, adenosine monophosphate, and adenosine in purinergic signaling pathway play important roles in many diseases. Activation of P2 receptors (P2R) channels and subsequent membrane depolarization can induce accumulation of extracellular ATP, and furtherly cause kinds of diseases, such as pain- and immune-related diseases, cardiac dysfunction, and tumorigenesis. Active ingredients of traditional Chinese herbals which exhibit superior pharmacological activities on diversified P2R channels have been considered as an alternative strategy of disease treatment. Experimental evidence of potential ingredients in Chinese herbs targeting P2R and their pharmacological activities were outlined in the study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11302-021-09774-xDOI Listing
June 2021

Tibetan medicine Duoxuekang ameliorates hypobaric hypoxia-induced brain injury in mice by restoration of cerebrovascular function.

J Ethnopharmacol 2021 Apr 25;270:113629. Epub 2020 Nov 25.

School of Ethnic Medicine, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, 611137, China; Ethnic Medicine Academic Heritage Innovation Research Center, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, 611137, China; NMPA Key Laboratory for Quality Evaluation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Traditional Chinese Patent Medicine), Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, 611137, China. Electronic address:

Ethnopharmacological Relevance: Duoxuekang (DXK, ཁྲག་འཕེལ་བདེ་བྱེད།) is a clinical experience prescription of CuoRu-Cailang, a famous Tibetan medicine master, which has effective advantages in the treatment of hypobaric hypoxia (HH)-induced brain injury. However, its underlying mechanisms remain unclear.

Aim Of The Study: The present study was designed to investigate the effects of DXK on cerebrovascular function of HH-induced brain injury in mice.

Materials And Methods: DSC-MR imaging was used to evaluate the effect of DXK on the brain blood perfusion of patients with hypoxic brain injury. HPLC analysis was used to detect the content of salidroside, gallic acid, tyrosol, corilagin, ellagic acid, isorhamnetin, quercetin and gingerol in DXK. The model of HH-induced brain injury in mice was established by an animal hypobaric and hypoxic chamber. The BABL/c mice were randomly divided into six groups: control group, model group, Hongjingtian oral liquid group (HOL, 3.3 ml/kg) and DXK groups (0.9, 1.8 and 3.6 g/kg). All mice (except the control group) were intragastrically administrated for a continuous 7 days and put into the animal hypobaric and hypoxic chamber after the last intragastric administration. Hematoxylin-eosin staining was employed to evaluate the pathological changes of brain tissue. Masson and Weigert stainings were used to detect the content of collagen fibers and elastic fibers of brain, respectively. Routine blood test and biochemical kits were used to analyze hematological parameters and oxidative stress indices. Immunofluorescence staining was applied to detect the protein levels of VEGF, CD31/vWF and α-SMA.

Results: The results of DSC-MR imaging confirmed that DXK can increased CBV in the left temporal lobe while decreased MTT in the right frontal lobe, right temporal lobe and right occipital lobe of the brain. DXK contains salidroside, gallic acid, tyrosol, corilagin, ellagic acid, isorhamnetin, quercetin and gingerol. Compared with the model group, DXK can ameliorate the atrophy and deformation, and increase the number of pyramidal neurons in hippocampal CA3 area and cortical neurocytes. Masson and Weigert stainings results revealed that DXK can significantly increase the content of collagen fibers and elastic fibers in brain. Routine blood test results demonstrated that DXK can dramatically decrease the levels of WBC, MCH and MCHC, while increase RBC, HGB, HCT, MCV and PLT in the blood samples. Biochemical results revealed that DXK can markedly increase SOD, CAT and GSH activities, while decrease MDA activity. Immunofluorescence revealed that DXK can notably increase the protein levels of VEGF, CD31/vWF and α-SMA.

Conclusions: In conclusion, this study proved that DXK can ameliorate HH-induced brain injury by improving brain blood perfusion, increasing the number of collagen and elastic fibers and inhibiting oxidative stress injury. The underlying mechanisms may be involved in maintaining the integrity of cerebrovascular endothelial cells and vascular function. However, further in vivo and in vitro investigations are still needed to elucidate the mechanisms of DXK on regulating cerebral blood vessels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2020.113629DOI Listing
April 2021

Gallic acid: Pharmacological activities and molecular mechanisms involved in inflammation-related diseases.

Biomed Pharmacother 2021 Jan 16;133:110985. Epub 2020 Nov 16.

Innovative Institute of Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, 611137, China; Ethnic Medicine Academic Heritage Innovation Research Center, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, 611137, China. Electronic address:

Gallic acid (GA), also known as 3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoic acid, is a natural secondary metabolite and widely isolated from various fruits, plants and nuts. In recent years, GA has received increasing attention for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. The purpose of this review is to clearly illuminate the pharmacological activities and related molecular mechanisms of GA in inflammatory diseases. After consulting a large number of literatures, we made a comprehensive exposition on the chemical characteristics, plant origins, pharmacokinetics and toxicity of GA, especially its pharmacological activities and mechanisms of action. Although the plant source of GA is very rich, its lower extraction rate limits the application of GA in development. It is worth mentioning that GA can not only be separated from many plants, but also be produced in large quantities through biological and chemical synthesis. According to pharmacokinetic studies, the absorption and elimination of GA after oral administration are fast, while the structural optimization or dosage form adjustment of GA is beneficial to increase its bioavailability. Promisingly, toxicity studies have shown that GA scarcely has obvious toxicity or side effects in a variety of animal experiments and clinical trials. The results show that the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of GA mainly involved MAPK and NF-κB signaling pathways. It thus weakens the inflammatory response by reducing the release of inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecule and cell infiltration. Due to its excellent pharmacological activities, GA is expected to be a potential candidate for the treatment of various inflammation-related diseases. This paper will provide theoretical basis for the clinical application of GA and guide the future research and medicinal development of GA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110985DOI Listing
January 2021

A review of traditional Chinese medicine on treatment of diabetic retinopathy and involved mechanisms.

Biomed Pharmacother 2020 Dec 13;132:110852. Epub 2020 Oct 13.

Innovative Institute of Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, 611137, China. Electronic address:

As a common ocular complication and microangiopathy of type 2 diabetic mellitus, diabetic retinopathy (DR) can lead to vision loss or even blindness in diabetic patients. At present, the treatment methods of DR mainly include laser and anti-VEGF therapies. Nevertheless, the higher cost and obvious side effects seriously disturb the normal life of DR patients. Promisingly, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been demonstrated to be effective in treating DR by tonifying Qi and nourishing Yin, as well clearing heat and breeding body fluids, thus activating blood and removing blood stasis. Therefore, we screened the literatures on TCM treatment of DR through the web of science, ScienceDirect, PubMed, Google scholar and CNKI online databases. The representative prescriptions, herbs and extracts, and identified compounds for treatment of DR were further summarized and analyzed. Moreover, the detailed mechanisms and involved network pathways of herbs-compounds-targets were visualized by Cytoscape software. Meanwhile, we discussed the existing limitations and deficiencies of TCM on treatment of DR and gave corresponding measures. In conclusion, TCM could significantly ameliorate DR via anti-inflammation, anti-oxidative stress, anti-angiogenesis and anti-apoptosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110852DOI Listing
December 2020

Potential applications of microfluidics based blood brain barrier (BBB)-on-chips for in vitro drug development.

Biomed Pharmacother 2020 Dec 12;132:110822. Epub 2020 Oct 12.

Innovative Institute of Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu 611137, China. Electronic address:

The human blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a complex multi-dimensional reticular barrier system composed of cerebral microvascular endothelial cells, pericytes, astrocytes and a variety of neurons. The conventional in vitro cell culture model fails to truly present the dynamic hemodynamics of BBB and the interaction between neurons. And it is even more impossible to explore brain-related multi-organ diseases, which brings huge obstacles to explore diseases of the central nervous system and the interaction between brain-related multi-organs, and evaluate drug efficacy. Miniaturized microfluidics based BBB chips are being commonly used to co-culture a variety of cells on a small-sized chip to construct a three-dimensional (3D) BBB or BBB-related organ disease models. By combining with other electrophysiological, biochemical sensors or equipment and imaging systems, it can in real time and quickly screen disease-related markers and evaluate drug efficacy. This review systematically summarized the research progress of in vitro BBB and BBB-related organ chips, and analyzed the obstacles of BBB models in depth. Parallelly combined with the current research trends and hot spots, we give the further improvement measures of microfluidic BBB chips.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110822DOI Listing
December 2020

ameliorates exhaustive exercise-induced fatigue in mice by suppressing mitophagy in skeletal muscle.

Exp Ther Med 2020 Oct 29;20(4):3161-3173. Epub 2020 Jul 29.

Ethnic Medicine Academic Heritage Innovation Research Center, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, Sichuan 611137, P.R. China.

The aim of present study was to evaluate the potential effects of oral liquid (RCOL) on exhaustive exercise (EE)-induced fatigue in mice. Male Institute of Cancer Research mice from five treatment groups (n=10 per group) were orally administered with sterilized water for the Control and EE groups and/or RCOL at doses of 1.02, 3.03 and 6.06 ml/kg/day, once daily for 2 weeks. Anti-fatigue activity was subsequently evaluated by measuring the levels of creatine kinase (CK), lactic acid (LA), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and total anti-oxidative capability (T-AOC). Histopathology was assessed using hematoxylin and eosin staining. Ultrastructures of mitochondria were observed by transmission electron microscopy. Energy supply capacity was assessed using citrate synthase (CS), succinate dehydrogenase (SDH), Na-K-ATPase, and liver and quadriceps glycogen content assays. Expression levels of mRNA and protein associated with mitophagy in the skeletal muscle were measured by reverse transcription-quantitative PCR and western blotting, respectively. RCOL was observed to markedly inhibit fatigue-induced oxidative stress by increasing the activities of SOD, CAT and T-AOC, whilst reducing the accumulation of LA, CK, LDH and MDA. Histological analysis of the quadriceps femoris tissue suggested increased numbers of muscle fibers in the RCOL groups compared with those in the EE group. RCOL administration was found to reverse EE-induced mitochondrial structural damage and alleviated defects inflicted onto the energy supply mechanism by increasing CS, SDH, Na-K-ATPase and glycogen levels. Additionally, RCOL reduced the protein expression of PTEN-induced kinase 1 (PINK1), Parkin, microtubule-associated proteins 1A/1B light chain 3, sequestosome 1 and ubiquitin, whilst lowering the gene expression of PINK1 and Parkin. Taken together, results from the present study clarified the anti-fatigue effect of RCOL, where the underlying mechanism may be associated with increased antioxidant activity, enhanced energy production and the inhibition of mitophagy by suppressing the PINK1/Parkin signaling pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/etm.2020.9072DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7444336PMC
October 2020

Amelioration of dry eye syndrome in db/db mice with diabetes mellitus by treatment with Tibetan Medicine Formula Jikan Mingmu Drops.

J Ethnopharmacol 2019 Sep 29;241:111992. Epub 2019 May 29.

Tibetan Medical College, Qinghai University, Xining, 810001, China. Electronic address:

Ethnopharmacological Relevance: Jikan Mingmu Drops (JMD), a traditional Tibetan medicine containing six herbs, has been used to treat dry eye syndrome (DES) in individuals with diabetes mellitus.

Aim Of Study: However, the activity of JMD ameliorates DES with diabetes mellitus has not been previously examined. The aim of the study is to investigate the molecular mechanism of JMD on db/db mice.

Materials And Methods: The main chemical constituents of JMD were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. DES was then induced in db/db mice by applying 0.2% benzalkonium chloride to the ocular surface for 7 days. Eye drops containing JMD (0.25, 0.5, or 1 g/mL) or vehicle subsequently were administered three times daily for another 7 days, and the therapeutic effects were evaluated by phenol red thread tear and sodium fluorescein tests. Conjunctival specimens were subjected to hematoxylin and eosin staining and periodic acid-Schiff staining to examine pathological changes and number of goblet cells. ELISA was performed to assess the levels of various inflammatory cytokines.

Results: JMD contains hydroxysafflor yellow A, magnoflorine, jatrorrhizine hydrochloride, palmatine hydrochloride, berberine hydrochloride, gallic acid, ellagic acid, tauroursodeoxycholic acid, camphor, isoborneol, borneol, trans-cinnamic acid, and muscone. JMD treatment significantly increased the tear volume, decreased the corneal fluorescein staining score, restored the morphology and structure of conjunctival epithelial cells, and markedly downregulated the levels of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-17α, IL-1β, tumor necrosis factor-α, and vascular endothelial growth factor in the conjunctiva. Further data showed that these protective effects were accompanied by inhibition of inflammation in a dose-dependent manner.

Conclusions: Amelioration of DES in db/db mice with diabetes mellitus by treatment with Tibetan medicine formula JMD maybe related to its anti-inflammatory effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2019.111992DOI Listing
September 2019

Rhodiola crenulata attenuates apoptosis and mitochondrial energy metabolism disorder in rats with hypobaric hypoxia-induced brain injury by regulating the HIF-1α/microRNA 210/ISCU1/2(COX10) signaling pathway.

J Ethnopharmacol 2019 Sep 13;241:111801. Epub 2019 Mar 13.

School of Pharmacy, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, PR China; Innovative Institute of Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, PR China. Electronic address:

Ethnopharmacological Relevance: Rhodiola crenulata, a traditional Tibetan medicine, has shown promise in the treatment of hypobaric hypoxia (HH)-induced brain injury. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. This study investigated the protective effects of R. crenulata aqueous extract (RCAE) on HH-induced brain injury in rats.

Materials And Methods: An animal model of high-altitude hypoxic brain injury was established in SD rats using an animal decompression chamber for 24 h. Serum and hippocampus levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), malondialdehyde (MDA), glutathione (GSH), oxidized glutathione (GSSG), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) were then determined using commercial biochemical kits. Neuron morphology and vitality were also evaluated using H&E and Nissl staining, and TUNEL staining was used to examine apoptosis. Gene and protein expression of HIF-1α, microRNA 210, ISCU1/2, COX10, Apaf-1, cleaved Caspase-3, Caspase-3, Bax, Bcl-2, and Cyto-c were determined by western blot, immunohistochemical and qRT-PCR analysis.

Results: RCAE administration attenuated HH-induced brain injury as evidenced by decreased levels of MDA, LDH, and GSSG, increased GSH and SOD, improvements in hippocampus histopathological changes, increased cell vitality and ATP level, and reduced apoptotic cell numbers. RCAE treatment also enhanced HIF-1α, ISCU1/2, COX10, and Bcl-2 protein expression, while dramatically inhibiting expression of Apaf-1, Bax, Cyto-c, and cleaved Caspase-3. Treatment also increased gene levels of HIF-1α, microRNA 210, ISCU1/2, and COX10, and decreased Caspase-3 gene production.

Conclusions: RCAE attenuated HH-induced brain injury by regulating apoptosis and mitochondrial energy metabolism via the HIF-1α/microRNA 210/ISCU1/2 (COX10) signaling pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2019.03.028DOI Listing
September 2019

Establishment and evaluation of a simulated high‑altitude hypoxic brain injury model in SD rats.

Mol Med Rep 2019 Apr 5;19(4):2758-2766. Epub 2019 Feb 5.

Department of Pharmacology of Chinese Materia Medica, School of Pharmacy, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Wenjiang, Chengdu, Sichuan 611137, P.R. China.

This study was conducted to establish a stable hypobaric hypoxia brain injury model. SD rats were randomly separated into control and model groups, and placed outside or inside of a hypobaric chamber, respectively. Subsequent to 24 h anoxic exposure, plasma superoxide dismutase (SOD), malondialdehyde (MDA), glutathione (GSH), oxidized glutathione (GSSG) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) were measured using commercial biochemical kits. Hematoxylin‑eosin (H&E), Nissl's and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining were used to observe the morphology of neurons in the hippocampus. The protein expression levels of apoptotic protease activating factor‑1 (Apaf‑1), hypoxia inducible factor‑1α (HIF‑1α), caspase‑3, cleaved caspase‑3, Bcl‑2‑associated X protein (Bax) and cytochrome c (cyto‑c) were detected using western blot and immunohistochemistry analyses. Hypoxic substantially induced morphological lesions in the hippocampus concomitant with the physical behavioral performance deficit. Furthermore, hypoxia markedly exacerbated the levels of MDA, LDH and GSSG, and restrained GSH (P<0.01) and SOD (P<0.05) levels compared with the control group. In addition, hypoxia significantly induced the protein expression of Apaf‑1, HIF‑1α, caspase‑3, cleaved caspase‑3, Bax and Cyto‑c (P<0.01) compared with the control group. Finally, a lower number and volume of Nissl bodies were verified in the hypoxic group. TUNEL results demonstrated a greater number of apoptotic cells in the hypoxic group. The present study demonstrates a model of rat hypoxic brain injuries induced by a hypobaric chamber at 9,000 m for 24 h. Furthermore, the redox enzyme, HIF‑1α and mitochondrial apoptosis‑associated protein, along with H&E and Nissl's staining, may be applied to evaluate the degree of injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/mmr.2019.9939DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6423628PMC
April 2019

Amelioration of diabetic nephropathy in db/db mice treated with tibetan medicine formula Siwei Jianghuang Decoction Powder extract.

Sci Rep 2018 11 12;8(1):16707. Epub 2018 Nov 12.

School of Pharmacy, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, 611137, China.

Siwei Jianghuang Decoction Powder (SWJH) documented originally in the Four Medical Tantras-Blue Glaze exhibited beneficial effects on diabetic nephropathy (DN) via combined synergistically action of multiple formula components including Curcumae longae Rhizoma, Berberidis dictyophyllae Cortex, Phyllanthi Fructus and Tribuli Fructus. This study investigated the effects of SWJH on DN in db/db mice and possible underlying mechanisms. The ten weeks old db/db mice treated with SWJH by intra-gastric administration once a day for 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, body weight, water and food intake of mice were recorded. The level of fasting blood glucose (FBG) was measured. Serum creatinine (Scr), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), urine microalbumin (UMAlb), serum uric acid (UA) and urinary albumin excretion (UAE) were detected. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was performed to test serum vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1). Real-time PCR and Western blot analysis were used to test mRNA and protein expression of hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), VEGF and TGF-β1 in kidney tissue. SWJH treatment significantly reduced the levels of FBG, Scr, BUN, UMAlb, UA and UAE and retarded renal fibrosis. SWJH treatment further significantly reduced serum TGF-β1 level and downregulated the expression of HIF-1α, VEGF and TGF-β1 at both mRNA and protein levels. Principal component analysis and partial least squares regression and hierarchical cluster analysis demonstrated that SWJH treatment significantly ameliorated renal damage in DN mice. These consequences suggested that SWJH formulations were effective in the treatment of DN through regulating the HIF-1α, VEGF and TGF-β1 overexpression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-35148-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6232159PMC
November 2018