J Ethnopharmacol 2019 Jul 20;239:111895. Epub 2019 Apr 20.
School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou, 510006, China. Electronic address:
Ethnopharmacological Relevance: Chuanxiong (Chuanxiong Rhizoma, CR), the dried rhizome of Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort, has been used during pregnancy for more than 2000 years. However, the embryotoxicity of CR was not evaluated so far. The purpose of this study was to examine the safety and rational use of CR during pregnancy on mice and mouse embryonic stem cell (ES), and to explore the mechanism of embryotoxicity.
Aim Of The Study: This study was carried out to evaluate embryotoxicity of CR decoction in vivo and in vitro, and to explore the mechanism of embryotoxicity from the perspective of bone metabolism.
Materials And Methods: In animal experiments, pregnant mice were randomly assigned into 5 groups, i.e. mice were orally treated with CR decoction at dosages of 0 (distilled water, as negative controls), 2, 8, 32 g/kg/d (low, medium and high-dose group), and vitamin A (as positive controls), respectively. Maternal and embryo-fetal parameters were registered after cesarean section. The fetal skeletal development was further assessed with the alizarin red S and Hematoxylin-Eosin staining (H&E staining) and fluorescent imaging. Meanwhile, the mouse embryonic stem cell test model (EST model) was established to objectively evaluate the toxicity of CR on the embryo development. The median inhibitory proliferation values (IC) for both the mouse embryonic stem cell D3 (ES) and mouse embryonic fibroblast 3T3 (3T3) were detected with MTT assays. After removal of inhibiting factor (LIF), mouse embryonic stem cells spontaneously differentiated into cardiomyocytes, the expression of specific myosin heavy chain gene (β-MHC) contained in cardiomyocytes were detected by q-PCR quantitative analysis, and median inhibitory differentiation concentration (ID) of ES was obtained. The development toxicity calculation formula was used to determine the embryotoxicity grade of CR decoction. finally, based on the successful induction of osteoblasts, the molecular mechanism of CR embryotoxicity was preliminarily studied based on BMP-Smads signal pathway.
Results: Compared with the negative control group, high, medium, and low doses of CR decoction had no significant effect on the maternal body weight and uterine weight (P > 0.05), as well as on the maternal liver, heart, and kidneys. The observation results showed that high dose of CR decoction significantly increase the number of absorbed fetuses (P < 0.05). The EST model was successfully established, the IC 3T3, IC ES and ID ES of CR were 9.39 mg/mL, 18.78 mg/mL, and 10.20 mg/mL, respectively. CR was classified as weak embryonic development toxicity by the EST linear discriminant formula. Meanwhile, osteoblasts were successfully induced in vitro, the relative expression levels of BMP2, BMPR2, Smad1, and Smad5 were down-regulated in varying degrees after 3, 6, and 9 days of treatment with different concentration gradients of CR decoction.
Conclusions: Combining in vivo and in vitro experiments, CR showed a potential embryotoxicity. The mechanism of embryotoxicity may be related to inhibiting the expression of key genes in the BMP-SMADs signaling pathway. In the clinical application, the normal dosage of CR is safe to a certain extent. However, when the dosage is too high (160 g/60 kg/d), there may be a risk of embryotoxicity.