Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge (Danshen) extract attenuates permanent cerebral ischemia through inhibiting platelet activation in rats

J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Jul 31;207:57-66. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2017.06.023. Epub 2017 Jun 20.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Danshen is a crude herbal drug isolated from dried roots of Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge. This plant is widely used in oriental medicine for the treatment of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. The supercritical CO2 extract from Danshen (SCED) (57.85%, 5.67% and 4.55% for tanshinone IIA, tanshinone I and cryptotanshinone respectively) was studied in this article, whose potential molecular mechanism remains unclear, especially in anti-thrombosis.

Aim of the study: The present study was designed to observe the protective effect of SCED on ischemic stroke in rats and to explore the underlying anti-thrombosis mechanism.

Materials and methods: Following induction of cerebral ischemia in rats by permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO). Neurological defect score, cerebral blood flow, infarct size, and brain edema were measured to evaluate the injury. Arteriovenous shunt thrombosis model and adenosine 5'-diphosphate (ADP) induced acute pulmonary embolism model were conducted to estimate the antithrombotic effect of SCED. In order to investigate the effects of SCED on platelet aggregation, rat platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) were incubated with SCED prior to the addition of the stimuli (ADP or 9, 11-dideoxy-11α, 9α-epoxymethanoprostaglandin F2α (U46619)). Aggregation was monitored in a light transmission aggregometer. Inhibitory effect of SCED on thromboxane A2 (TXA2) release was detected by ELISA kit. Phospholipase C (PLC)/ Protein kinase C (PKC) signaling pathway was analyzed by a Western blot technique. The effect of the SCED was also studied in vivo on bleeding time in mice.

Results: SCED improved the neurological defect score, increased cerebral blood flow, reduced infarct size and alleviated brain edema in rats exposed to pMCAO. After administration of SCED, thrombosis formation in arteriovenous shunt was inhibited and recovery time in pulmonary embolism was shortened. The inhibitory effect of SCED on platelet activation was further confirmed by TXB2 ELISA kit and Western blot analysis of PLC/PKC signaling pathway.

Conclusions: SCED attenuates cerebral ischemic injury. The possible mechanism is that SCED inhibits thrombosis formation, platelet aggregation and activation of PLC/PKC pathway. On this basis, this new extract could be a promising agent to inhibit thrombosis formation and protect against cerebral ischemia injury.

Keywords: 1. Tanshinone IIA (PubChem CID: 164676); 2. Tanshinone I (PubChem CID: 114917); 3. Cryptotanshinone (PubChem CID: 160254); Cerebral ischemia; Platelet aggregation; Salvia miltiorrhiza extract; Thrombus.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain Ischemia / prevention & control*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Platelet Activation / drug effects
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Salvia miltiorrhiza / chemistry*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Stroke / prevention & control*
  • Thrombosis / drug therapy
  • Type C Phospholipases / metabolism


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • dan-shen root extract
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Type C Phospholipases