Icariin Acts as a Potential Agent for Preventing Cardiac Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury

Cell Biochem Biophys. 2015 Jun;72(2):589-97. doi: 10.1007/s12013-014-0506-3.


Myocardial infarction is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. Although essential for successful recovery, myocardium reperfusion is associated with reperfusion injury. Icariin, a major flavonoid of Epimedium koreanum Nakai, has been proven to exert efficacy for improving cardiovascular function. We investigated the molecular effect and signal pathway of icariin on cardiac ischemia/reperfusion injury. In an in vivo model of infarct in rats, icariin (10 mg/kg) significantly attenuated myocardial infarct size induced by ischemia/reperfusion (I/R). From the TUNEL assay, icariin reduced the apoptotic cell induced by I/R and decreased blood indicators of creatine kinase, ischemia-modified albumin, and lactate dehydrogenase. All this effect was antagonized by the PI3K inhibitor LY294002. Meanwhile, icariin activated the PI3K/Akt/eNOS pathway. The PI3K inhibitor LY294002 suppressed icariin-mediated protective effect. These results suggest that icariin protects against myocardial ischemia reperfusion injury in rats by activating the PI3K/Akt/eNOS-dependent signal pathways and may be a useful drug for angiogenic therapy.

Keywords: I/R; Icariin; Myocardial; PI3K/Akt/eNOS.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cardiotonic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / drug therapy*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / drug effects
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Flavonoids
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • icariin