Background: Panax notoginseng is commonly used for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases in China. The present study investigates the effects of three different saponin fractions (ie total saponins, PNS; protopanaxadiol-type saponin, PDS; and protopanaxatriol-type saponin, PTS) and two major individual ingredients (ie ginsenoside Rg1 and Rb1) from P. notoginseng on the endothelial inflammatory response in vitro and in vivo.
Methods: Recombinant human tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) was added to the culture medium of human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAECs) to induce an inflammatory response. A cell adhesion assay was used to determine the effect of the P. notoginseng saponin fractions on endothelial-monocyte interaction. The cell adhesion molecule (CAMs) expression, including ICAM-1 and VCAM-1, in the protein level on the surface of endothelial cells were measured by cellular ELISA. CAMs expression in mRNA level was also assayed by qRT-PCR in the HCAECs and the aorta of rat fed with high cholesterol diet (HCD). Western blotting was used to detect effect of the saponin fractions on CAMs protein expression in HCAECs. In addition, nuclear translocation of p65, a surrogate marker for NF-κB activation, was measured by immunostaining.
Results: Three saponin fractions and two individual ginsenosides exhibited the inhibitory effects on monocyte adhesion on TNF-α-activated HCAECs and expression of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 at both mRNA and protein levels in vitro. The saponin fractions exhibited a similar trend of the inhibitory effects on the mRNA expression of CAMs in the aorta of HCD-fed rat in vivo. These inhibitory effect of saponin fractions maybe attribute partially to the suppression of the TNF-α-induced NF-κB activation.
Conclusion: Our data demonstrate that saponin fractions (ie PNS, PDS and PTS) and major individual ginsenosides (ie Rg1 and Rb1) have potential anti-atherogenic effects. Among the tested saponin fractions, PDS is the most potent saponin fraction against TNF-α-induced monocyte adhesion as well as the expression of adhesion molecules in vitro and in vivo.