Anti-inflammatory activities of an active fraction isolated from the root of Astragalus membranaceus in RAW 264.7 macrophages

Phytother Res. 2014 Mar;28(3):395-404. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5002. Epub 2013 May 3.


The root of Astragalus membranaceus (AR), which has been widely used in Traditional Chinese herbal formulae for treating foot ulcer, was found to exhibit anti-inflammatory property, but its molecular mechanism still remains unknown. We previously identified the anti-inflammatory sub-fraction using bioassay-guided fractionation. The objective of the present study was to investigate the anti-inflammatory mechanism of the major active fraction (MAF) (0.039 to 0.156 mg/mL) using lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated mouse macrophage RAW 264.7 cells. MAF was shown to inhibit LPS-induced mRNA and protein expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase by 54.7% and 65.1%, respectively. Additionally, MAF down-regulated the protein expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and MAPK regulator by 45.0% to 74.6%, as well as the reduction of DNA binding activity of nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) by 66.5%. It also attenuated the production of prostaglandin E2 , interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha by 21.2% to 86.2%. Furthermore, the chemical constituents of MAF were identified. A total of 13 known chemical compounds were found in MAF, including five isoflavonoids and eight saponins. In conclusion, a bioactive fraction of AR was identified which possessed anti-inflammatory property by reducing the release of inflammatory mediators and inactivation of NFκB through MAPK signalling pathway.

Keywords: Astragalus membranaceus; Traditional Chinese Medicine; anti-inflammatory; macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Astragalus propinquus / chemistry*
  • Cell Line
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Dinoprostone / metabolism
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / isolation & purification
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Saponins / isolation & purification
  • Saponins / pharmacology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Flavonoids
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • NF-kappa B
  • Plant Extracts
  • Saponins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nos2 protein, mouse
  • Ptgs2 protein, mouse
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Dinoprostone