Protective Effects of Hong Shan Capsule against Lethal Total-Body Irradiation-Induced Damage in Wistar Rats

Hong Shan Capsule (HSC), a crude drug of 11 medicinal herbs, was used in clinical practice for the treatment of radiation injuries in China. HSC is composed of Cornus officinalis, Fructus crataegi, Millettia dielsiana, Pericarpium Citri  reticulatae, Radix Ginseng rubra, Rehmannia glutinosa, Radix astragali, Radix Paeoniae lactiflorae, Semen coicis, Rhizoma anemarrhenae, and Rhizoma Ligustici chuanxiong

In this study, Li et al., (2015) investigated its protection in rats against acute lethal total-body irradiation (TBI). Pre-administration of HSC reduced the radiation sickness characteristics, while increasing the 30-day survival of the irradiated rats. 

Administration of HSC also reduced the radiation sickness characteristics and increased the 30-day survival of mice after exposure to lethal TBI. Ultrastructural observation illustrated that the pretreatment of rats with HSC significantly attenuated the TBI-induced morphological changes in the different organs of irradiated rats. Gene expression profiles revealed the dramatic effect of HSC on alterations of gene expression caused by lethal TBI. 

Pretreatment with HSC prevented differential expression of 66% (1398 genes) of 2126 genes differentially expressed in response to TBI. Pathway enrichment analysis indicated that these genes were mainly involved in a total of 32 pathways, such as pathways in cancer and the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway. 

The analysis indicated that the pretreatment of rats with HSC modulated these pathways induced by lethal TBI, such as multiple MAPK pathways, suggesting that pretreatment  with HSC might provide protective effects on lethal TBI mainly or partially through the modulation of these pathways. The data suggest that HSC has the potential to be used as an effective therapeutic or radio-protective agent to minimize irradiation damage.

Catalpol (a main bioactive component in the roots of Rehmannia glutinosa) decreased plasma malondialdehyde (MDA) intestinal 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) levels and increased plasma endogenous antioxidants and peripheral white blood cells and platelets in vivo, which suggested that catalpol possessed notable radio-protective activity by reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS) [1].  The  components  of Cornus officinalis showed significant free radical-scavenging activity and inhibitory effects on melanogenesis induced by radiation [2]. Millettia dielsiana had an anti-inflammatory effect, decreasing NO production [3]. The extracts of Fructus crataegi were reported to have a radio-protective effect with antioxidant activity [4,5] and protected lymphocytes from the effects of radiation [6]. Citri reticulatae pericarpium possessed various pharmacological effects involved in antioxidant ability against hydroxyl-induced DNA damage [7]. Anemarrhenae Rhizoma showed various bioactivities, such as anti-tumor, anti-oxidation, anti-microbial, anti-virus, anti-inflammation, anti-osteoporosis, anti-skin aging and damage effects, as well as other activities [8]. The combination of different types of medical herbs above in HSC can benefit from each other with different roles in the formula, and ultimately gain the goal of enhancing efficacy, which caters to the core thinking of traditional Chinese medicine theory. 


Li Jz, Xu J, Xu Wh, et al. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16, 18938-18955; doi:10.3390/ijms160818938


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