Prunella vulgaris Attenuates Diabetic Renal Injury by Suppressing Glomerular Fibrosis and Inflammation

Am J Chin Med. 2017;45(3):475-495. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X1750029X. Epub 2017 Mar 30.


Diabetic nephropathy is both the most common complication and the leading cause of mortality associated with diabetes. Prunella vulgaris, a well-known traditional medicinal plant, is used for the cure of abscess, scrofula, hypertension and urinary diseases. This study confirmed whether an aqueous extract of Prunella vulgaris (APV) suppresses renal inflammation and fibrosis. In human mesangial cell (HMC), pretreatment of APV attenuated 25[Formula: see text]mM HG-induced suppressed TGF-[Formula: see text] and Smad-2/4 expression; it increased the expression level of Smad-7. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) and collagen IV, fibrosis biomarkers, were significantly decreased by APV. APV suppressed inflammatory factors such as intracellular cell adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1). APV inhibited activation and translocation of nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-[Formula: see text]B) in HG-stimulated HMCs. Moreover, APV significantly improved HG-induced ROS in a dose-dependent manner. In diabetic rat models, APV significantly decreased blood glucose, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and ameliorated plasma creatinine (PCr). APV reduced the PAS positivity staining intensity and basement membrane thickening in glomeruli of diabetic rats. Fibrosis related proteins such as collagen IV and TGF-[Formula: see text]1 were also inhibited by APV. These results suggest that APV has a significant protective effect against diabetic renal dysfunction including inflammation and fibrosis through disruption of the TGF-[Formula: see text]/Smad signaling. Therefore, APV may be useful in potential therapies that target glomerulonephritis and glomerulosclerosis, which lead to diabetic nephropathy.

Keywords: Diabetic Nephropathy; Glomerular Fibrosis; Mesangial Cells; Prunella vulgaris; Streptozotocin.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokine CCL2 / metabolism
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Connective Tissue Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / drug therapy*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / metabolism
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Glomerulonephritis / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Kidney Glomerulus / pathology*
  • Male
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Prunella / chemistry*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / metabolism


  • Ccl2 protein, rat
  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Plant Extracts
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Connective Tissue Growth Factor
  • Collagen