PloS one

The vascular effects of sodium tanshinone IIA sulphonate in rodent and human pregnancy.

PMID 25811628


Danshen, in particular its derivative tanshinone IIA (TS), is a promising compound in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and has been used for many years in traditional Chinese medicine. Although many actions of TS have been researched, its vasodilator effects in pregnancy remain unknown. There have been a few studies that have shown the ability of TS to reduce blood pressure in women with hypertensive pregnancies; however, there are no studies which have examined the vascular effects of TS in the pregnant state in either normal or complicated pregnancies. Our aim was to determine the vasoactive role of TS in multiple arteries during pregnancy including: rat resistance (mesenteric and uterine) and conduit (carotid) arteries. Further, we aimed to assess the ability of TS to improve uterine blood flow in a rodent model of intrauterine growth restriction. Wire myography was used to assess vascular responses to the water-soluble derivative, sodium tanshinone IIA sulphonate (STS) or to the endothelium-dependent vasodilator, methylcholine. At mid-pregnancy, STS caused direct vasodilation of rat resistance (pEC50 mesenteric: 4.47±0.05 and uterine: 3.65±0.10) but not conduit (carotid) arteries. In late pregnancy, human myometrial arteries responded with a similar sensitivity to STS (pEC50 myometrial: 3.26±0.13). STS treatment for the last third of pregnancy in eNOS-/- mice increased uterine artery responses to methylcholine (Emax eNOS-/-: 55.2±9.2% vs. eNOS-/- treated: 75.7±8.9%, p<0.0001). The promising vascular effects, however, did not lead to improved uterine or umbilical blood flow in vivo, nor to improved fetal biometrics; body weight and crown-rump length. Further, STS treatment increased the uterine artery resistance index and decreased offspring body weight in control mice. Further research would be required to determine the safety and efficacy of use of STS in pregnancy.