Proangiogenesis effects of compound danshen dripping pills in zebrafish

Background: The compound Danshen Dripping Pill (CDDP), which is a mixture of extracts from Radix Salviae and Panax notoginseng, is a patented traditional Chinese medicine that is widely used in multiple countries for relieving coronary heart disease (CHD), but its pharmacological mechanism has not been fully elucidated. In this study, we screened the key pharmacological pathways and targets of CDDP that act on CHD using a network pharmacology-based strategy, and the angiogenic activity of CDDP was directly visually investigated in zebrafish embryos in vivo.

Methods: The potential therapeutic targets and pathways were predicted through a bioinformatics analysis. The proangiogenic effects of CDDP were examined using vascular sprouting assays on subintestinal vessels (SIVs) and optic arteries (OAs) as well as injury assays on intersegmental vessels (ISVs). Pharmacological experiments were applied to confirm the pathway involved.

Results: Sixty-five potential therapeutic targets of CDDP on CHD were identified and enriched in the PI3K/AKT and VEGF/VEGFR pathways. An in vivo study revealed that CDDP promoted angiogenesis in SIVs and OAs in a dose-dependent manner and relieved the impairments in ISVs induced by lenvatinib, a VEGF receptor kinase inhibitor (VRI). In addition, Vegfaa and Kdrl expression were significantly upregulated after CDDP treatment. Furthermore, the proangiogenic effect of CDDP could be abolished by PI3K/AKT pathway inhibitors.

Conclusions: CDDP has a proangiogenic effect, the mechanism of which involves the VEGF/VEGFR and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways. These results suggest a new insight into the cardiovascular protective effect of CDDP.

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