A plant compound called s is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicineIt was found that alvianolic acid B or SAB rReduce lung scars (fibrosis) and blood clotting when inhaled to a rat model of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
These results suggest that SAB should be further investigated as a potential IPF treatment, according to researchers.
The study, “Salvianolic acid B inhalation solution enhances the antifibrotic and anticoagulant effects in a rat model of pulmonary fibrosis, ”Published in the journal Biomedicine & Pharmacology.
Finding effective treatments for IPF remains a longstanding challenge. Although current therapies slow the progression of IPF, they do not significantly extend survival, suggesting that other therapeutic goals still need to be found.
SAB is a compound that can be isolated from the red sage – called Salvia miltiorrhiza and also known as Danshen – a perennial herb whose roots are very valuable for medicinal purposes.
It is a key ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine that has been used to relieve symptoms of fibrotic disorders. IPF patients sometimes turn to such agents when traditional drugs fail, and scientists have studied some components of Chinese medicine for treating scars.
Previous research has shown that SAB can limit fibrosis (tissue scarring) in a mouse model of induced pulmonary fibrosis. However, injections of the substance have also raised safety concerns.
Now researchers from the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing decided to evaluate the antifibrotic and anticoagulant or anticoagulant effects of an inhaled SAB formulation in a rat model of IPF.
The team first triggered the onset of the disease in the rats by treating them with bleomycin, a chemical commonly used for this purpose. The animals were then treated with various doses of an inhaled or nebulized formulation of SAB or with a vehicle solution lacking the compound.
Rats treated with nebulized SAB showed significantly less shallow breathing and pulmonary resistance, which is a parameter that reflects difficulty in breathing. In addition, the rats also showed an increase in the volume of air inhaled per breath and dynamic compliance – a measure of the ability of the lungs to stretch and expand.
After examining animal tissue samples, the researchers found fewer signs of physical damage to the lungs of the SAB-treated rats compared to their untreated peers. In addition, the lungs of SAB-treated animals showed fewer signs of widespread fibrosis than those of untreated rats, suggesting that SAB may be able to slow the progression of IPF in these animals.
Several disease markers decreased significantly in SAB-treated rats and the compound significantly increased the activity of FII and FX clotting factor genes. It also significantly increased the activity of two plasminogen activator genes – tissue-type plasminogen activator and urokinase-type plasminogen activator – which play key roles in preventing excessive blood clotting.
These results suggest that SAB may activate the fibrinolytic system, which is responsible for breaking down excess fibrin, one of the main molecules in fibrotic scars.
SAB treatment also decreased the levels of protease-activated receptor 1 (PAR-1) and phosphorylated protein kinase C (p-PKC) in the rats’ lungs and increased levels of unphosphorylated PKC, known as PKC. While researchers have written that previous studies found PKC to play a protective role in IPF, increases in p-PKC and PAR-1 can make the condition worse.
“Taken together, our data has shown that SAB can exert its antifibrotic and anticoagulant effects by preventing the expression of PAR-1 and the phosphorylation of PKC,” the researchers wrote.
They added that these results suggest that SAB is a potential drug to treat IPF.
Forest Ray received his PhD in systems biology from Columbia University, where he developed tools to match drug side effects to other diseases. Since then he has worked as a journalist and science journalist, dealing with topics ranging from rare diseases to the interface between environmental science and social justice. He currently lives in Long Beach, California.
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Joana holds a BSc in Biology, an MSc in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology and a PhD in Biomedicine from Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal. Her work focused on the influence of non-canonical Wnt signals on the collective behavior of endothelial cells – cells that make up the lining of blood vessels – found in the umbilical cord of newborns.