Induction of growth hormone by the roots of Astragalus membranaceus in pituitary cell culture

Arch Pharm Res. 2003 Jan;26(1):34-9. doi: 10.1007/BF03179928.


The traditional Asian medicinal herb, roots of Astragalus (A.) membranaceus (Leguminosae), is used for many purposes, some of which are purported to stimulate the release of growth hormone in vivo. Extracts of A. membranaceus were tested to determine whether they stimulate the release of growth hormone in rat pituitary cell culture. A. membranaceus was extracted sequentially with 80% ethanol (fraction A), n-hexane (fraction B); the test compound from the herbal extraction was isolated using silica gel column chromatography and was identified with spectral data. Test compound was also extracted by traditional boiling water methods. Induction of growth hormone in pituitary cell culture was conducted with isolated compounds and extracted fractions of A. Radix (dried roots of A. membranaceus). The fraction A was not active in the rat pituitary cell culture, but the fraction B derived from the ethanol fraction stimulated the release of growth hormone in culture. Six compounds from fraction B (1-6) were isolated and identified previously. The compounds 1,2-benzendicarboxylic acid diisononylester (1), beta-sitosterol (2), and 3-O-beta-D-galactopyranosyl-beta-sitosterol (5) did not induce growth hormone release in the culture. Formononetin (3), 9Z,12Z-octadecadienoic acid (4), stigmast-4-en-6beta-ol-3-one (6) and 98-E, a mixture of 1'-9,12-octadecadienoic acid (Z,Z)-2',3'-dihydroxy-propylester (7) and 1'-hexadecanoic acid-2',3'-dihydroxy-propylester (8) stimulated the release of growth hormone in the rat pituitary cell culture significantly compared to the control. In conclusions, four compounds isolated from extracts of A. Radix induced growth hormone release in the rat pituitary cell culture. The 98-E isolate was the most active inducer of growth hormone release.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astragalus propinquus* / chemistry
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Growth Hormone / biosynthesis*
  • Male
  • Pituitary Gland / cytology
  • Pituitary Gland / drug effects*
  • Pituitary Gland / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Plant Extracts
  • Growth Hormone