Ursolic acid inhibits neointima formation in the rat carotid artery injury model

Atherosclerosis. 2006 Jan;184(1):53-62. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2005.04.014.


Triterpenoids are natural compounds that are found in a large variety of plants and vegetarian foods, and are used for medicinal purposes in many Asian countries. Pentacyclic triterpenes, such as ursolic acid, have been reported to exhibit anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties. The present study was designed to assess the effects of ursolic acid in the migration and proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), and in a vascular injury model. The exposure of VSMC to ursolic acid results in a chemotaxis inhibition, in a reduction of the expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and in a disorganization of beta-tubulin and vimentin cytoskeletal proteins. Administration of ursolic acid in the rat carotid balloon catheter injury model shows a significant inhibition of neointimal hyperplasia. Thus, we have demonstrated that daily doses of 6 mg/kg body weight for 10 days reduce both the ratio of intimal to medial areas and the degree of stenosis by 80%, and suppress the expression of PCNA in both neointima and media. These results suggest that pentacyclic triterpenes may be of potential therapeutic value in vascular injury, and a possible treatment strategy for the prevention of the progression of atherosclerosis and restenosis after angioplasty.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carotid Artery Injuries / drug therapy
  • Carotid Artery Injuries / metabolism
  • Carotid Artery Injuries / pathology*
  • Carotid Artery, Common*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hyperplasia / metabolism
  • Hyperplasia / pathology
  • Hyperplasia / prevention & control
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / prevention & control
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / biosynthesis
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Triterpenes / therapeutic use*
  • Tubulin / drug effects
  • Tubulin / metabolism
  • Tunica Intima / drug effects
  • Tunica Intima / metabolism
  • Tunica Intima / pathology*
  • Vimentin / drug effects
  • Vimentin / metabolism


  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen
  • Triterpenes
  • Tubulin
  • Vimentin
  • ursolic acid