Journal of cellular and molecular medicine

Danshensu alleviates cardiac ischaemia/reperfusion injury by inhibiting autophagy and apoptosis via activation of mTOR signalling.

PMID 27385290


The traditional Chinese medicine Danshensu (DSS) has a protective effect on cardiac ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the DSS action remain undefined. We investigated the potential role of DSS in autophagy and apoptosis using cardiac I/R injury models of cardiomyocytes and isolated rat hearts. Cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes were subjected to 6 hrs of hypoxia followed by 18 hrs of reoxygenation to induce cell damage. The isolated rat hearts were used to perform global ischaemia for 30 min., followed by 60 min. reperfusion. Ischaemia/reperfusion injury decreased the haemodynamic parameters on cardiac function, damaged cardiomyocytes or even caused cell death. Pre-treatment of DSS significantly improved cell survival and protected against I/R-induced deterioration of cardiac function. The improved cell survival upon DSS treatment was associated with activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) (as manifested by increased phosphorylation of S6K and S6), which was accompanied with attenuated autophagy flux and decreased expression of autophagy- and apoptosis-related proteins (including p62, LC3-II, Beclin-1, Bax, and Caspase-3) at both protein and mRNA levels. These results suggest that alleviation of cardiac I/R injury by pre-treatment with DSS may be attributable to inhibiting excessive autophagy and apoptosis through mTOR activation.