Context: Withania somnifera (Linn.) Dunal (Solanaceae), a clinically used herbal drug in Ayurveda, shows potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic, and cardioprotective effects. However, the efficacy of W. somnifera in pulmonary hypertension (PH), a cardiopulmonary disorder, remains unexplored.
Objective: The present study investigates the effect of W. somnifera root powder on monocrotaline (MCT)-induced PH in rats.
Materials and methods: In preventive studies, W. somnifera root powder (50 and 100 mg/kg/d, p.o.) was administered from day 1 following single administration of MCT (60 mg/kg, s.c.) in Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats. After 35 d, right ventricular pressure (RVP) was measured in anesthetized rats. Various physical markers of right ventricular hypertrophy (RVH) were measured in isolated hearts. Markers of endothelial function, inflammation, and oxidative stress were estimated in lung homogenate. Vasoreactivity of pulmonary arteries was also studied. In therapeutic treatment, W. somnifera (50 and 100 mg/kg/d, p.o.) was administered from day 21 to 35 post-MCT administration.
Results: Preventive treatment with 50 and 100 mg/kg W. somnifera significantly reduced the RVP (32.18 ± 1.273 mm Hg and 29.98 ± 1.119 mm Hg, respectively, versus 42.96 ± 1.789 mm Hg of MCT) and all markers of RVH in MCT-challenged rats. There was an improvement in inflammation, oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction, and attenuation of proliferative marker and apoptotic resistance in lungs. Therapeutic treatment with W. somnifera (100 mg/kg) also reduced RVP and RVH.
Discussion: This study demonstrated that W. somnifera significantly protected against MCT-induced PH due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic, and cardioprotective properties.
Keywords: Apoptosis; inflammation; proliferating cell nuclear antigen; pulmonary hypertension; right ventricle pressure; right ventricular hypertrophy.