Planta Med 2007; 73(6): 527-534
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-981520
Original Paper
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Studies on Antiproliferative Effects of Phthalides from Ligusticum chuanxiong in Hepatic Stellate Cells

Ting-Fang Lee1 , Yun-Lian Lin2 , Yi-Tsau Huang1
  • 1Institute of Traditional Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2National Research Institute of Chinese Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan
Further Information

Publication History

Received: August 31, 2006 Revised: April 6, 2007

Accepted: April 15, 2007

Publication Date:
22 May 2007 (online)


Suppression of hepatic stellate cell (HSC) growth and activation, and induction of apoptosis, have been proposed as therapeutic strategies for the treatment and prevention of liver fibrosis. Our previous study showed that the Chinese herb Ligusticum chuanxiong (LC) inhibits platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF-BB)-induced HSC proliferation. The present study was designed to investigate the active principles and their action mechanisms. With a bioactivity-directed fractionation approach, DNA synthesis (bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation), cell cycle related proteins and apoptosis markers were determined to evaluate the inhibitory effects of active principles of LC. Two phthalides, Z,Z′-6,8′,7,3′-diligustilide (1) and levistolide A (2), from LC significantly abrogated PDGF-BB-induced proliferation in both rat and human HSC lines. These inhibitory effects of compounds 1 and 2 were associated with reduction of α-smooth muscle actin and collagen expressions. The cell cycle promoting proteins, cyclins D1, D2, E, A and B1, were downregulated while the inhibitory proteins p21 and 27 were up-regulated. JNK phosphorylation was up-regulated by compounds 1 and 2. In HSC-T6, the two compounds induced apoptosis through the activation of caspases 9 and 3, increase in cytosolic cytochrome c release, and downregulation of Bcl-2 and Akt phosphorylation. Moreover, neither phthalides caused direct cytotoxicity to either HSCs or rat primary hepatocytes under experimental concentrations. These results indicate that two phthalides from LC inhibited PDGF-BB-activated HSC proliferation possibly through cell cycle inhibition and apoptosis mechanisms. They might be potential anti-fibrotic drugs for the treatment and prevention of hepatic fibrosis.



EtOAc:ethyl acetate

ECM:extracellular matrix

HSC:hepatic stellate cell

JNK:c-jun N-terminal kinase

LC:Ligusticum chuanxiong


PDGF:platelet-derived growth factor

α-SMA:α-smooth muscle actin

TNF:tumor necrosis factor


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Dr. Yi-Tsau Huang

Institute of Traditional Medicine

School of Medicine

National Yang-Ming University

No. 155, Li-Nong Street, Sect. 2

Taipei 112