Astragalus polysaccharides suppress ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression in TNF-α-treated human vascular endothelial cells by blocking NF-κB activation

Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2013 Aug;34(8):1036-42. doi: 10.1038/aps.2013.46. Epub 2013 Jun 3.


Aim: To investigate the effects Astragalus polysaccharides (APS) on tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-induced inflammatory reactions in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms.

Methods: HUVECs were treated with TNF-α for 24 h. The amounts of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) were determined with Western blotting. HUVEC viability and apoptosis were detected using cell viability assay and Hoechst staining, respectively. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production was measured by DHE staining. Monocyte and HUVEC adhesion assay was used to detect endothelial cell adhesive function. NF-κB activation was detected with immunofluorescence.

Results: TNF-α (1-80 ng/mL) caused dose- and time-dependent increases of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression in HUVECs, accompanied by significant augmentation of IκB phosphorylation and NF-κB translocation into the nuclei. Pretreatment with APS (10 and 50 μg/mL) significantly attenuated TNFα-induced upregulation of ICAM-1 VCAM-1 and NF-κB translocation. Moreover, APS significantly reduced apoptosis, ROS generation and adhesion function damage in TNF-α-treated HUVECs.

Conclusion: APS suppresses TNFα-induced adhesion molecule expression by blocking NF-κB signaling and inhibiting ROS generation in HUVECs. The results suggest that APS may be used to treat and prevent endothelial cell injury-related diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Astragalus Plant*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / biosynthesis
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism*
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Polysaccharides / isolation & purification
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / toxicity*
  • U937 Cells
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / biosynthesis
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism*


  • NF-kappa B
  • Polysaccharides
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1