Radix Astragali, the dried roots of Astragalus membranaceus var. mongholicus, is well known to have a protective effect on diabetic nephropathy. However, the effects of isoflavonoids in Radix Astragali on glomerular cells, which play a key role in the development of diabetic vascular complications, remain largely unknown. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate in vitro the effect of calycosin and calycosin-7-O-β-D-glucoside, two major isoflavonoids in Radix Astragali, on high glucose-induced rat mesangial cells proliferation and AGEs-induced human glomerular endothelial cell apoptosis. The results indicated that both calycosin and calycosin-7-O-β-D-glucoside (10-100 µM) could inhibit high glucose-induced mesangial cell early proliferation. Additionally, AGEs-mediated cell apoptosis was also attenuated by treatment of glomerular endothelial cells with either calycosin or calycosin-7-O-β-D-glucoside (1-100 µM). Therefore, the results obtained in this study suggest that both calycosin and calycosin-7-O-β-D-glucoside have a significant therapeutic potential to modulate the development and/or progression of diabetic nephropathy.
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