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Astragalus membranaceus (AM) is a popular "Qi-tonifying" herb with a long history of use as a Traditional Chinese Medicine with multiple biological functions. However, evidence for the effects of AM on exercise performance and physical fatigue is limited. We evaluated the potential beneficial effects of AM on ergogenic and anti-fatigue functions following physiological challenge. Male ICR strain mice were randomly assigned to four groups (n = 10 per group) for treatment: (1) sedentary control and vehicle treatment (vehicle control); (2) exercise training with vehicle treatment (exercise control); and (3) exercise training with AM treatment at 0.615 g/kg/day (Ex-AM1) or (4) 3.075 g/kg/day (Ex-AM5). Both the vehicle and AM were orally administered for 6 weeks. Exercise performance and anti-fatigue function were evaluated by forelimb grip strength, exhaustive swimming time, and levels of serum lactate, ammonia, glucose, and creatine kinase after 15-min swimming exercise. Exercise training combined with AM supplementation increased endurance exercise capacity and increased hepatic and muscle glycogen content. AM reduced exercise-induced accumulation of the byproducts blood lactate and ammonia with acute exercise challenge. Moreover, we found no deleterious effects from AM treatment. Therefore, AM supplementation improved exercise performance and had anti-fatigue effects in mice. It may be an effective ergogenic aid in exercise training.
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Molecules 2014, 19, 2793-2807; doi:10.3390/molecules19032793
ISSN 1420-3049
Astragalus membranaceus Improves Exercise Performance and
Ameliorates Exercise-Induced Fatigue in Trained Mice
Tzu-Shao Yeh 1, Hsiao-Li Chuang 2,†, Wen-Ching Huang 3,†, Yi-Ming Chen 4,, Chi-Chang Huang 4,*
and Mei-Chich Hsu 5,*
1 School of Nutrition and Health Sciences, Taipei Medical University, Taipei 11031, Taiwan
2 National Laboratory Animal Center, National Applied Research Laboratories, Taipei 11529, Taiwan
3 Graduate Institute of Athletics and Coaching Science, National Taiwan Sport University,
Taoyuan 33301, Taiwan
4 Graduate Institute of Sports Science, National Taiwan Sport University, Taoyuan 33301, Taiwan
5 Department of Sports Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung 80708, Taiwan
These authors contributed equally to this work.
* Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mails: (C.-C.H.); (M.-C.H.); Tel.: +886-3-328-3201 (ext. 2619) (C.-C.H.);
+886-7-312-1101 (ext. 2793-613) (M.-C.H.).
Received: 15 February 2014; in revised form: 24 February 2014 / Accepted: 24 February 2014 /
Published: 3 March 2014
Abstract: Astragalus membranaceus (AM) is a popular “Qi-tonifying” herb with a long
history of use as a Traditional Chinese Medicine with multiple biological functions.
However, evidence for the effects of AM on exercise performance and physical fatigue is
limited. We evaluated the potential beneficial effects of AM on ergogenic and anti-fatigue
functions following physiological challenge. Male ICR strain mice were randomly
assigned to four groups (n = 10 per group) for treatment: (1) sedentary control and vehicle
treatment (vehicle control); (2) exercise training with vehicle treatment (exercise control);
and (3) exercise training with AM treatment at 0.615 g/kg/day (Ex-AM1) or
(4) 3.075 g/kg/day (Ex-AM5). Both the vehicle and AM were orally administered for 6 weeks.
Exercise performance and anti-fatigue function were evaluated by forelimb grip strength,
exhaustive swimming time, and levels of serum lactate, ammonia, glucose, and creatine
kinase after 15-min swimming exercise. Exercise training combined with AM
supplementation increased endurance exercise capacity and increased hepatic and muscle
glycogen content. AM reduced exercise-induced accumulation of the byproducts blood
Molecules 2014, 19 2794
lactate and ammonia with acute exercise challenge. Moreover, we found no deleterious
effects from AM treatment. Therefore, AM supplementation improved exercise
performance and had anti-fatigue effects in mice. It may be an effective ergogenic aid in
exercise training.
Keywords: Huangqi; exhaustion exercise; lactate; ammonia; glycogen
1. Introduction
Astragalus membranaceus (AM) is a well-known the “Qi-tonifying” or adaptogenic herb used in
Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has been prescribed for centuries for general debilitation and chronic
illnesses and to increase overall vitality [1]. The main constituents of AM roots are polysaccharides,
saponins, flavonoids, amino acids and trace elements [2,3]. More than 40 constituents in Astragalus
saponins have been identified from the Astragalus root [4]. Astragalosides have various
pharmacological activities and are used as a quality-control marker of AM [5]. In recent decades,
molecular features and pharmacokinetics and pharmacological actions of Astragaloside polysaccharides
and other active ingredients from the plant have been studied extensively, which could enable its
clinical use [6]. AM has effects against myocardial damage [7–10], promotes angiogenesis [11,12] and
protects endothelial function [13], prevents ultraviolet A-induced photoaging [14], is hepatoprotective [15],
improves insulin resistance [16] and is involved in immunomodulatory activities [17–19]. However,
few studies have directly addressed the possible anti-fatigue function of AM.
Fatigue is a complex phenomenon that can be defined as the inability to maintain expected muscle
strength, leading to reduced performance during prolonged exercise and has classified physical and/or
mental fatigue [20]. Physical fatigue is also called peripheral fatigue, which can be derived from the
action of the muscles and may be accompanied by deterioration in functional performance [21–23].
Chronic fatigue can lead to severe health problems [24,25]. There are at least two mechanisms that can
explain the occurrence of physical fatigue: oxidative stress and energy exhaustion [26]. Overloading
work or exhaustive exercise can lead to the accumulation of excess reactive free radicals, which result
in tissue damage. Exhaustion theory suggests that energy source depletion and excess metabolite
accumulation lead to fatigue [27]. However, several studies have shown that exogenous nutrition
supplement can reduce exercise-induced physical fatigue [28–32]. Research into specific nutrients or
herbal supplements is needed to find agents that reduce metabolite production and/or improve
energy utilization.
Herbal medicines and food factors have been investigated as an important resource for postponing
fatigue, accelerating the elimination of fatigue-related metabolites, and improving exercise
performance. AM has long been considered a potent remedy for regulating the body balance, with few
adverse effects, but scientific evidence of its action is lacking. AM may be an anti-fatigue herbal
supplement candidate. Here, we examined whether AM supplementation before intensive aerobic
exercise training could change body composition, physical activities, and physiologic features in vivo
in mice.
Molecules 2014, 19 2795
2. Results and Discussion
2.1. Body Weight and Other Metabolism-Related Organ Weights
Morphological data from each experimental group are listed in Table 1. Initial and final body
weights did not differ among treatment groups. The food intake was higher by 1.12-, 1.10 and
1.05-fold (p < 0.05), respectively, for the exercise control, Ex-AM1 and Ex-AM5 groups, than the
vehicle control group. The groups did not differ in weights of liver, kidney, epididymal fat pad,
muscle, and brown adipose tissue. The relative tissue weight (%) is a measure of different tissue
weights adjusted by individual body weight, and relative liver weight was lower for the Ex-AM5 group
than the vehicle group (p < 0.05).
Table 1. General characteristics of the experimental groups.
Characteristic Vehicle Control Exercise Control Ex-AM1 Ex-AM5
Initial body weight (g) 25.43 ± 0.24 25.47 ± 0.20 25.53 ± 0.29 25.49 ± 0.28
1 week body weight (g) 29.94 ± 0.57 29.11 ± 0.40 28.76 ± 0.50 28.78 ± 0.57
2 week body weight (g) 31.54 ± 0.59 30.07 ± 0.49 31.55 ± 0.50 31.41 ± 0.68
3 week body weight (g) 32.63 ± 0.48 32.43 ± 0.50 32.84 ± 0.48 33.26 ± 0.85
4 week body weight (g) 33.52 ± 0.44 33.53 ± 0.41 33.52 ± 0.53 34.23 ± 0.85
5 week body weight (g) 34.50 ± 0.45 33.68 ± 0.33 34.59 ± 0.56 35.11 ± 0.81
Final body weight (g) 35.59 ± 0.51 35.80 ± 0.46 36.28 ± 0.44 37.18 ± 0.76
Food intake (g/day) 6.78 ± 0.01 a 7.61 ± 0.01 d 7.44 ± 0.03 c 7.11 ± 0.03 b
Food efficiency (%) 1.49 ± 0.06 1.35 ± 0.05 1.44 ± 0.05 1.64 ± 0.08
Liver (g) 2.16 ± 0.03 2.14 ± 0.03 2.05 ± 0.03 2.06 ± 0.04
Kidney (g) 0.61 ± 0.01 0.65 ± 0.02 0.62 ± 0.02 0.63 ± 0.01
Epididymal fat pads (g) 0.52 ± 0.03 0.47 ± 0.02 0.42 ± 0.04 0.46 ± 0.02
Muscle (g) 0.36 ± 0.01 0.36 ± 0.01 0.37 ± 0.01 0.37 ± 0.01
Brown adipose tissue (g) 0.13 ± 0.01 0.15 ± 0.01 0.16 ± 0.01 0.16 ± 0.01
Relative liver weight (%) 6.07 ± 0.07 b 5.97 ± 0.07 b 5.67 ± 0.07b 5.54 ± 0.11 a
Relative kidney weight (%) 1.72 ± 0.03 1.81 ± 0.04 1.71 ± 0.04 1.71 ± 0.04
Relative epididymal fat pads weight (%) 1.45 ± 0.06 1.30 ± 0.07 1.17 ± 0.12 1.23 ± 0.07
Relative muscle weight (%) 1.01 ± 0.02 1.02 ± 0.02 1.02 ± 0.02 1.00 ± 0.03
Relative brown adipose tissue weight (%) 0.37 ± 0.01 0.42 ± 0.02 0.43 ± 0.03 0.43 ± 0.03
Data are mean ± SEM for n = 10 mice in each group. Data in the same row with different superscript letters
(a, b, c and d) differ significantly, p < 0.05, by one-way ANOVA. Food efficiency (%): body weight
gain (g/day) food intake (g/day) 100%. Muscle mass includes both gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in
the back part of the lower legs.
2.2. Effects of AM on Forelimb Grip Strength
The forelimb grip strength of mice increased with Ex-AM5 supplementation than with the vehicle
treatment (Figure 1A). On trend analysis, grip strength dose-dependently increased with AM dose
during training intervention (p < 0.005). Thus, high dose of AM may contribute to physiological activities.
Molecules 2014, 19 2796
Figure 1. Effect of A. membranaceus (AM) supplementation on forelimb grip strength (A)
and swimming exercise performance (B). Data are mean ± SEM of n = 10 mice in each
group by one-way ANOVA. * p < 0.05; *** p < 0.001.
2.3. Effect of AM on Exercise Performance in Weight-loaded Swim Test
Exercise endurance is an important variable in evaluating anti-fatigue treatment. Exercise endurance
in mice with a swim test increased with Ex-AM1 and Ex-AM5 supplementation than with the vehicle
treatment (Figure 1B). At higher AM doses, exercise performance was significantly longer, by
2.33-fold (p < 0.05), with Ex-AM5 compared to exercise control. On trend analysis, exercise
performance dose-dependently increased with AM dose (p < 0.005). Therefore, exercise training
combined with AM supplementation significantly increased exercise performance.
2.4. Effect of Exercise Training Combined with AM Supplementation on the Serum Levels of Lactate,
Ammonia, Glucose and Creatine Kinase (CK) After Acute Exercise Challenge
Muscle fatigue after exercise can be evaluated by biochemical indicators including lactate,
ammonia, glucose and CK levels after exercise [30]. Lactate levels decreased with Ex-AM5
supplementation than with the vehicle or exercise only treatment (Figure 2A). Serum ammonia levels
decreased with Ex-AM1 and Ex-AM5 supplementation than with the vehicle or exercise only
treatment (Figure 2B). Serum glucose contents increased with Ex-AM5 supplementation than with the
vehicle treatment (Figure 2C). Serum CK activity, a muscular damage marker, decreased with
Ex-AM5 supplementation among four groups (Figure 2D). Trend analysis revealed that AM treatment
had a significant dose-dependent effect on increasing blood glucose level (p < 0.001) and decreasing
serum levels of lactate and ammonia and CK (p < 0.001).
Molecules 2014, 19 2797
Figure 2. Effect of AM supplementation on serum lactate (A), ammonia (B), glucose (C),
and CK (D) levels after a 15-min swim test without weight loading. Data are mean ± SEM
of n = 10 mice in each group by one-way ANOVA. Different letters indicate a significant
difference p value. * p < 0.05; ** p < 0.01; *** p < 0.001.
2.5. Effect of AM Supplementation on Hepatic and Muscle Glycogen Levels
Hepatic and muscle glycogen levels increased with exercise control, Ex-AM1 and Ex-AM5
treatment (Figure 3). In addition, the trend analysis revealed that AM treatment had a significant
dose-dependent effect on increasing hepatic and muscle glycogen levels (p < 0.001).
2.6. Effect of AM Supplementation on Biochemical Analyses at the End of the Experiment
We examined whether AM treatment for 6 weeks could have negative effects on other biochemical
markers in healthy mice. We examined the liver- and kidney-related biochemical parameters and major
organs including liver, skeletal muscles, heart, kidney, lungs, and testes according to histopathological
examinations in AM-treated mice (Table 2 and Figure 4). We found no indication of a deleterious
effect with AM treatment. With exercise training and continuous AM supplementation for 6 weeks,
triglycerides level was significantly decreased by about 44% and 40% (p < 0.05) for the Ex-AM1 and
Ex-AM5 groups, respectively, as compared with the vehicle control. AM may enhance the effect of
exercise to reduce hyperlipidemia.
Molecules 2014, 19 2798
Figure 3. Effect of AM supplementation on levels of hepatic glycogen (A) and muscle
glycogen (B). Data are mean ± SEM of n = 10 mice in each group by one-way ANOVA.
*** p < 0.001.
Tab l e 2 . Biochemical analysis of the AM treatment groups at the end of the experiment.
Parameter Vehicle Control Exercise Control Ex-AM1 Ex-AM5
AST (U/L) 62.90 ± 3.17 68.90 ± 3.78 60.70 ± 2.93 59.00 ± 1.97
ALT (U/L) 42.10 ± 2.84 a 54.30 ± 2.34 b 39.20 ± 1.79 a 46.30 ± 1.93 a,b
ALP (U/L) 48.80 ± 3.22 63.40 ± 5.80 54.80 ± 3.59 59.20 ± 3.49
LDH (U/L) 301.10 ± 19.06 273.00 ± 23.09 254.70 ± 17.29 293.10 ± 15.41
Albumin (g/dL) 3.56 ± 0.08 3.76 ± 0.06 3.59 ± 0.05 3.73 ± 0.06
TBIL (μg/dL) 0.19 ± 0.03 0.22 ± 0.03 0.23 ± 0.03 0.22 ± 0.02
TP (g/dL) 4.73 ± 0.06 4.63 ± 0.06 4.56 ± 0.05 4.58 ± 0.05
BUN (mg/dL) 23.43 ± 0.77 23.07 ± 1.00 20.18 ± 0.57 23.21 ± 0.46
Creatinine (mg/dL) 0.13 ± 0.01 0.12 ± 0.01 0.11 ± 0.00 0.12 ± 0.01
UA (mg/dL) 1.43 ± 0.11 a 0.83 ± 0.05 b 1.33 ± 0.07 a 1.18 ± 0.09 a,b
TG (mg/dL) 228.00 ± 21.03 a 184.40 ± 20.34 a,b 126.70 ± 5.74 b 136.60 ± 10.02 b
TC (mg/dL) 110.60 ± 4.17 104.40 ± 4.45 112.80 ± 4.68 107.90 ± 4.13
Glucose (mg/dL) 179.80 ± 6.03 182.30 ± 6.73 181.00 ± 4.40 177.20 ± 4.56
Data are mean ± SEM for n = 10 mice in each group. Data in the same row with different superscript letters
(a and b) differ significantly, p < 0.05, by one-way ANOVA. AST, aspartate aminotransferase; ALT, alanine
aminotransferase; ALP, alkaline phosphatase; LDH, lactate dehydrogenase; TBIL, total bilirubin; TP, total
protein; BUN, blood urea nitrogen; UA, uric acid; TG, triacylglycerol; TC, total cholesterol.
2.7. Effect of AM Supplementation on Histological Examinations at the End of the Experiment
As shown in Figure 4, the four groups did not differ in histological observations of liver, muscle,
heart, kidney, lung, and testis.
Molecules 2014, 19 2799
Figure 4. Effect of AM supplementation on morphology of liver (A), skeletal muscle (B),
heart (C), kidney (D), lungs (E), and testes (F) tissues. Specimens were photographed
under a light microscope. (H&E stain, magnification: ×200, Scale bar, 40 μm).
2.8. Discussion
Previously, the effect of AM on exercise-induced accumulation of products of metabolism and
physical toxicity has been unclear. In this study, we compared the fatigue-alleviating effects of two
doses of AM as well as vehicle and exercise control on endurance in exercised and weight-loading
mice. We found that: (1) Exercise training combined with AM supplementation increased endurance
with exercise and increased hepatic and muscle glycogen content; (2) AM reduced exercise-induced
accumulation of byproducts such as blood lactate and ammonia by acute exercise challenge;
and (3) daily AM administration for 6 weeks had no toxic effects according to biochemical parameters
and histopathological examination. Thus, AM may have ergogenic and anti-fatigue functions.
Astragalus polysaccharides are the main active constituents of AM. The Astragalus polysaccharide
were found to have a positive effect on skeletal muscle for glucose homeostasis through stimulation of
protein kinase B (PKB)/glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) pathways [33]. It has been demonstrated that
skeletal muscle 2-deoxyglucose uptake during muscle contractions is directly related to muscle GLUT-4
Molecules 2014, 19 2800
protein content [34] and GLUT-4-mediated muscle glucose transport does not limit exercise-stimulated
muscle glucose uptake [35]. One previous study reported that Astragalus polysaccharide increased the
number of GLUT4 transporters at the muscle cell surface [33]. In our study, exercise with AM
supplement significant increased exercise performance, and AM treatment had a significant dose-
dependent effect on increasing blood glucose after a 15-min swimming test without weight-loading.
These results indicate that AM may enhance muscle glucose uptake during exercise and continue AM
supplement could prolong the time of exercise.
Serum level of CK is an important clinical biomarker of muscle damage, muscular dystrophy,
severe muscle breakdown, myocardial infarction, autoimmune myositides and acute renal failure.
High-intensity exercise challenge could physically or chemically cause tissue damage and muscular
cell necrosis [36]. Furthermore, reactive oxygen species (ROSs), like lactate anion and protons, have
been suggested to be implicated in oxidative skeletal muscle fatigue. It is reported that ROS alter such
transport systems as potassium transport and thus contribute to the onset of fatigue [37]. Under
oxidative stress-induced cellular injuries, the cell membrane integrity can be damaged, and cytosolic
enzymes will leak out into the serum. Those enzymes, including lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), CK,
myoglobin, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), etc., can be parameters
indicating tissue injury under high-intensity exercise challenge [36]. Astragalosides is another
bioactive components of AM and a well antioxidant to protect exercise-induced oxidative stress [38,39].
In our study, serum CK activity was significantly lower by 40.7% with Ex-AM5 treatment than the
exercise control (p < 0.001). These results indicated that AM supplementation could stabilize
membranes and attenuate muscle damage during exercise.
Energy storage and supply is another important factor related to exercise performance. With energy
expenditure during exercise, physical fatigue is mainly caused by energy consumption and deficiency [40].
Catabolized fat and carbohydrates are considered the main sources of energy during exercise in
skeletal muscles, and glycogen is the predominant source of glycolysis for energy production.
Therefore, glycogen storage directly affects exercise ability [41]. In our study, liver glycogen content
was significantly higher, by 1.06- and 1.21-fold (all p < 0.001), with Ex-AM1 and Ex-AM5,
respectively, than exercise control. In addition, muscle glycogen content was significantly higher by
1.01- and 1.17-fold (all p < 0.001) with Ex-AM1 and Ex-AM5, respectively, than exercise control. The
glycogen-sparing effect of AM could provide an important survival advantage in situations requiring
extended periods of prolonged exercise endurance because glycogen depletion is associated with
physical exhaustion, and slower utilization of glycogen results in improved exercise endurance. As one
of the sources of blood glucose, liver glycogen plays an important role in controlling the availability of
cellular energy. It is possible that AM may have promoted glycogenolysis restraint and/or gluconeogenesis.
The levels of serum glucose, lactate, ammonia, and glutamine are known to serve as indicators of
accumulated fatigue and stress caused by exercise [42]. Blood lactate is the glycolysis product of
carbohydrate under anaerobic conditions, and glycolysis is the main energy source for short term
intensive exercise. Because the accumulation of blood lactate causes fatigue during physical exercise,
rapid removal of lactate is beneficial to relieving fatigue [43]. Ammonia, a metabolite of proteins and
amino acids, was linked to fatigue [44]. An increase in ammonia in response to exercise can be
managed by the use of glutamine and/or carbohydrates that interfere with ammonia metabolism [45].
The increase in ammonia level is related to both peripheral and central fatigue during exercise [23].
Molecules 2014, 19 2801
In our study, serum ammonia levels were significantly lower by 12.7% and 22.3% with Ex-AM1 and
Ex-AM5, respectively, than the exercise control (p < 0.001). Lactate levels were significantly lower by
25.6% (p < 0.05) with Ex-AM5 than exercise control. This result suggests that AM supplementation
may reduce exercise-induced byproducts accumulate and alleviate physical fatigue.
Together, our results suggest that AM supplementation may ameliorate exercise-induced oxidative
stress, stimulate blood circulation, improving the transport efficiency to nutritional minerals and
assisting excretion and the elimination of the by-products of metabolism, and thereby against
physical fatigue.
3. Experimental
3.1. Experiment Design
The AM used for supplementation in the study was purchased from Sun Ten Pharmaceutical Co.,
Biotechnology Ltd. (New Taipei, Taiwan). Male ICR strain mice (4 weeks old) grown under specific
pathogen free conditions were purchased from BioLASCO (Yi-Lan, Taiwan). One week of
acclimation to the environment and diet was allowed before the experiment began. All animals were
fed a standard laboratory diet (No. 5001; PMI Nutrition International, Brentwood, MO, USA) and
housed at room temperature (23 ± 1 °C), with 50%–60% humidity and lighting (lights on from 06:00
to 18:00). The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) of National Taiwan Sport
University approved all animal experiments in this study, and the study conformed to the guidelines of
protocol IACUC-10206 approved by the IACUC ethics committee.
The recommended use of AM for humans is about 3 g per one intake with a normal diet. The mouse
AM dose (0.615 g/kg) used in this study was converted from a human equivalent dose (HED) based on
body surface area by the following formula from the US Food and Drug Administration: assuming a
human weight of 60 kg, the HED for 3 (g) 60 (kg) = 0.05 × 12.3 = a mouse dose of 0.615 g/kg; the
conversion coefficient 12.3 was used to account for differences in body surface area between a mouse
and a human as described in our recent study [46].
All animals were randomly assigned to four groups (n = 10 per group) for swim exercise training or
exercise with AM supplement treatment: (1) sedentary control and vehicle treatment (vehicle control);
(2) exercise training with vehicle treatment (exercise control); and (3) exercise training with 0.615 g/kg
AM (Ex-AM1) or (4) 3.075 g/kg AM (Ex-AM5). The vehicle group received the same volume of
solution equivalent to individual body weight. Both the vehicle and AM were given orally to each
animal for 6 weeks.
3.2. Swimming Exercise Training
Animals in the exercise control and Ex-AM1 and Ex-AM5 groups underwent an intensive aerobic
swim training program adapted from our recent study with some modifications [46]. They were placed
in a plastic container (65 cm high, 40 cm diameter) with 20-cm tap water depth maintained at 28 ± 1°C.
They trained 30 min on the first day, 45 min on the second day, then 60 min/day, 5 days/week. The
swim training was maintained for 1 h from weeks 2 to 6. After the first week, the swim training
consisted of 5 weekly sessions of 60 min of forced swimming with a 1% loading of body weight at
Molecules 2014, 19 2802
week 2. From weeks 3 to 4, animals underwent a 2% loading of body weight training protocol. At the
fifth and sixth week, the swimming load was up to 3% of body weight, which consisted of 5 weekly
swim sessions for 60 min each. Body weight was measured weekly, and the load was estimated and
increased accordingly.
3.3. Exhaustion Swimming Exercise Test
Swim to exhaustion exercise test involved constant loads corresponding to 5% of body weight to
evaluate endurance. The swimming exercise was carried out in a round tank (65 cm high, 40 cm
diameter), filled with water to 45 cm depth and maintained at a temperature of 28 ± 1 °C. To avoid
circadian variations in physical activity, swimming exercise was performed between 07:00 and 14:00,
when minimal variation in endurance capacity was confirmed in mice [47]. The endurance of each
mouse was recorded as the time from beginning swimming to exhaustion, which was determined by
observing loss of coordinated movements and failure to return to the surface within 7 s. Times floating,
struggling, and making necessary movements were considered in the swimming duration until
exhaustion and possible drowning.
3.4. Forelimb Grip Strength
A low-force testing system (Model-RX-5, Aikoh Engineering, Nagoya, Japan) was used to measure
forelimb grip strength of mice undergoing vehicle, exercise, and AM treatments. The amount of tensile
force was measured by use of a force transducer equipped with a mental bar (2 mm diameter and 7.5 cm
long) for each mouse in each group. As described in our previous studies [31,48,49], we grasped the
mouse by the base of the tail and lowered it vertically toward the bar. The mouse was pulled slightly
backwards by the tail while the two paws (forelimbs) grasped the bar, which triggered a “counter pull.”
This grip strength meter recorded the grasping force in grams. Forelimb grip strength testing was
performed after consecutive administration of the vehicle of AM for 6 weeks and 1 h after the last
treatment. The maximal force (in grams) recorded by the counter-pull of mice forelimbs was used as
grip strength.
3.5. Determination of Blood Biochemical Variables
The effects of AM on serum lactate, ammonia, and glucose levels, and CK activity were evaluated
post-exercise. At 1 h after the last administration, mice underwent a 15-min swimming test without
loading. After the swim exercise, blood samples were immediately collected from the submandibular
duct of pretreated mice and centrifuged at 1,500 ×g and 4 °C for 10 min for serum preparation.
Clinical biochemical assessment was determined by use of an autoanalyzer (Hitachi 7060, Hitachi,
Tokyo, Japan).
3.6. Tissue Glycogen Determination
Because liver and skeletal muscles are the 2 major tissues for glycogen deposition, we investigate
whether glycogen contents of these 2 target tissues could increase with AM administration. Mice
underwent treatment for 6 weeks and then were killed 1 h after the last treatment administration. The
Molecules 2014, 19 2803
muscle and liver were excised and weighed for a glycogen content analysis. The muscle and hepatic
glycogen levels were measured as described in our previous studies [31,48,49]. For each mouse, 60 mg
muscle and liver tissue was finely cut, weighed and homogenized in 0.3 mL cold 10% perchloric acid.
After centrifugation for 15 min with 15,000 ×g at 4 °C, the supernatant was carefully decanted and
kept on ice for analysis. A standard glycogen (Sigma, Linkou Dist., New Taipei City, Taiwan) or tissue
extract, 30 μL, was added to 96-well microplates, and iodine-potassium iodide reagent, 200 μL, was
added to each well for binding iodine to glycogen. An amber-brown compound developed immediately
after the reaction. Absorbance was measured at wavelength 460 nm with use of an ELISA reader
(Tecan Infinite M200, Tecan Austria, Austria) after the material rested for 10 min.
3.7. Histological Staining of Tissues
Fresh liver, skeletal muscles, heart, kidney, lungs, and testes tissues were collected and fixed in
10% formalin after mice were killed. Tissues were embedded in paraffin and cut into 4-μm thick slices
for morphological and pathological evaluation as we described previously [31,48,49]. Tissue sections
were stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) and examined under a light microscope equipped with
a CCD camera (BX-51, Olympus, Tokyo, Japan) by a clinical pathologist.
3.8. Analysis of Astragalus Membranaceus by HPLC/CAD
To confirm the quality of AM, we analysed the main chemical constituents of AM. The quantitative
analysis of AM was confirmed using standard astragalosides I, II, III, and IV (ChromaDex, Irvine, CA,
USA) diluted with methanol and then sonicated for 30 min. The mixed standard was further diluted as
necessary to create a calibration curve. AM was extracted using methanol and sonicated for 30 min,
and was subsequently equilibrated at room temperature. An aliquot of each sample solution was then
filtered using a 0.45-μm PTFE syringe filter; the filtrate was collected in an HPLC vial for analysis.
The AM component was determined to contain 1.455 mg/g of total Astragaloside (Table 3).
Table 3. The Astragaloside compounds in A. membranaceus (AM).
A. membranaceus (mg/g)
Astragaloside I 1.02
Astragaloside II 0.24
Astragaloside III BRL
Astragaloside IV 0.195
Total Astragalosides 1.455
Astragalosides analysis by HPLC/CAD. Chromatographic condition: spectra were obtained by
scanning UV-Vis. A Phenomenex Kinetix C18 column (150 × 4.6 mm, 2.6 μm, 100 Å) was used. The
flow rate was set at 0.9 mL/min, injection volume was 5 μL, and temperature was set at 40 °C.
The CAD detection was used corona aerosol discharge detector. BRL, compound detected below
reporting limit.
Molecules 2014, 19 2804
3.9. Statistical Analysis
All data are expressed as the mean ± SEM. Statistical differences among groups were analyzed by
one-way ANOVA and the Cochran-Armitage test for dose-effect trend analysis with SPSS 14.0 (SPSS,
Chicago, IL, USA). In case of significant F ratios, Scheffe post-hoc tests were used to determine
differences. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.
4. Conclusions
A. membranaceus (AM) has anti-fatigue activity by decreasing serum lactate and ammonia levels
and increasing liver and muscle glycogen deposition, thereby promoting exercise performance in mice.
Although the detailed anti-fatigue mechanisms of AM remain to be elucidated, this study provides
science-based evidence to support traditional claims of anti-fatigue results with AM treatment and
suggests a use for AM as an ergogenic and anti-fatigue agent.
The study was funded by the National Science Council, Taiwan (NSC-99-2410-H-179-006-MY2
and NSC101-2410-H-037-016-MY3). The authors are grateful to Chin-Shan Ho for technical assistance
in measuring forelimb grip strength. We also thank Laura Smales for carefully reading the manuscript.
Author Contributions
Conceived and designed the experiments: Chi-Chang Huang and Mei-Chich Hsu. Performed the
experiments: Tzu-Shao Yeh, Wen-Ching Huang and Yi-Ming Chen. Analyzed the data: Tzu-Shao Yeh
and Hsiao-Li Chuang. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: Hsiao-Li Chuang, Chi-Chang
Huang and Mei-Chich Hsu. Wrote and Revised the manuscript: Chi-Chang Huang and Mei-Chich Hsu.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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... Over the years, extensive research has been conducted on the chemical components of AR. It is known that AR root contains saponins, polysaccharides, flavonoids, amino acids, and trace elements [8]. Among these, saponins are the major active constituents, especially Astragaloside IV (AS-IV). ...
... Table 1 lists Over the years, extensive research has been conducted on the chemical components of AR. It is known that AR root contains saponins, polysaccharides, flavonoids, amino acids, and trace elements [8]. Among these, saponins are the major active constituents, especially Astragaloside IV (AS-IV). ...
... A lot of saponins have previously been isolated and authenticated from AR. In 2007, Xu et al. isolated and identified Astragaloside I (1), Astragaloside II (4), Astragaloside IV (6), Astragaloside IV isomer/III (7) and Astragaloside V/VI/VII (8,9,10) in the roots of A. membranaceus using high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem atmospheric pressure chemical ionization mass spectrometry (HPLC-APCI-MS) [15]. In addition, the compounds Soyasaponin II (11) and Soyasaponin I (12) were detected and analyzed in AR using high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-quadruple-time of flight-mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI-QTOF/MS) [16]. ...
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Astragali Radix (AR) is one of the well-known traditional Chinese medicines with a long history of medical use and a wide range of clinical applications. AR contains a variety of chemical constituents which can be classified into the following categories: polysaccharides, saponins, flavonoids, amino acids, and trace elements. There are several techniques to extract these constituents, of which microwave-assisted, enzymatic, aqueous, ultrasonic and reflux extraction are the most used. Several methods such as spectroscopy, capillary electrophoresis and various chromatographic methods have been developed to identify and analyze AR. Meanwhile, this paper also summarizes the biological activities of AR, such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor and antiviral activities. It is expected to provide theoretical support for the better development and utilization of AR.
... Endurance-swimming time, forelimb-grip strength, and changes in biochemical marker levels were studied and a histological analysis of muscle and other tissues was performed to assess the fatigue in animal models [24,25]. Endurance-swimming time in a ...
... Endurance-swimming time, forelimb-grip strength, and changes in biochemical marker levels were studied and a histological analysis of muscle and other tissues was performed to assess the fatigue in animal models [24,25]. Endurance-swimming time in a forcedswimming test, forelimb-grip test, and rotary rod test have been widely used in animal models for evaluating the anti-fatigue efficacy of drugs or natural compounds [26,27]. ...
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Glossogyne tenuifolia (GT) is a native perennial plant growing across the coastline areas in Taiwan. The current study aimed to examine the efficacy of GT extract in ameliorating physical fatigue during exercise and increasing exercise performance. Fifty male Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) mice were randomly segregated into five groups (n = 10) to GT extract orally for 4 weeks, at different concentrations (50, 100, 250, and 500 mg/kg BW/day): LGT 1X, MGT 2X, HGT 5X, and HGT 10X groups. Forelimb grip strength, endurance swimming time, serum biochemical marker levels, blood lipid profile and histological analysis of various organs were performed to assess the anti-fatigue effect and exercise performance of GT extract. The forelimb-grips strength and endurance-swimming time of GT-administered mice were increased significantly in a dose-dependent manner when compared to the control. Serum glucose, creatine kinase, and lactate levels were increased significantly in the HGT 10X group. Liver marker serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase (GOT) was increased in the HGT 5X and HGT 10X groups, whereas Serum Glutamic Pyruvic Transaminase (GPT) was not altered. Renal markers, creatinine and uric acid levels, were not altered. Muscle and hepatic glycogen levels, which are essential for energy sources during exercise, were also significantly increased in a dose-dependent manner in all GT extract groups. No visible histological aberrations were observed in the vital organs after GT extract administration. The supplementation with GT extract could have beneficial effects on exercise performance and anti-fatigue function without toxicity at a higher dose.
... Among others an increase in interferon gamma and a decrease in interleukin 4 (IL4) levels in asthmatic children [17] has been observed, as well as a decrease in Th2 response cytokines in mice with artificially induced asthma model [20], or, based on the increase in interleukin 2 (IL2) and decrease in IL4, in rats subjected to forced swimming and food restriction [21]. Athletes use AMR in their daily routine as an adaptogenic and antifatigue agent for improving endurance performance [22], however, its impact on their immune system has not yet been assessed. ...
... Changes in other blood parameters have also been presented in articles concerning exertion [60]. Reduced blood lactic acid levels were noted in the supplemented athletes, which is in line with animal studies on AMR intake [22,61]. ...
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Background This paper aimed to verify how a supplementation of rower’s diet with Astragalus Membranaceus Root (AMR) modulated their immune system response to maximal physical exertion. Methods The double-blind study included 18 members of the Polish Rowing Team assigned to the supplemented group ( n = 10), and the placebo group ( n = 8). The participants performed a 2000 m test on a rowing ergometer at the beginning and at the end of the six-week of intensive training camp during which the supplemented group received 500 mg of AMR. Blood samples were obtained prior to, 1 min after completing, and 24 h after the exertion test. The levels of interleukin 2 (IL2), interleukin 4 (IL4), interleukin 10 (IL10), interferon ɤ (IFN-ɣ), and lactic acid were determined. Subpopulations of T regulatory lymphocytes [CD4+/CD25+/CD127−] (Treg), cytotoxic lymphocytes [CD8+/TCRαβ+] (CTL), natural killer cells [CD3−/CD16+/CD56+] (NK), and TCRδγ-positive cells (Tδγ) were determined with flow cytometry. Results After the camp, the initial NK and Treg levels sustained at the baseline, while Tδγ counts increased relative to the levels in the placebo group. In the supplemented subgroup, a decrease in IL2 level in reaction to maximal exertion clearly deepened while the change in IL-2/IL-10 level induced by the recovery after this exertion clearly increased, relative to the changes in the placebo group. Conclusions AMR restored the immunological balance in strenuously trained athlets through a stabilization of NK and Treg cells with a positive trend in Tδγ towards Th1 response during restitution by cytokine IL2 modulation.
... We have previously studied the functions of AM and our results revealed that AM ingestion combined with habitual exercise led to enhanced muscular strength. We also demonstrated a dose-dependence of AM supplementation in mice [33]. Furthermore, some studies revealed that AM can regulate part of the Akt in insulin-resistant skeletal muscle [34] and the mTOR pathway in breast cancer cells [35]. ...
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Astragalus membranaceus (AM) is classified as a high-class traditional herbal medicine, which has strengthened vitality and multifunctional pharmacological activities, but limited empirical evidence is available to support its effects in muscular hypertrophy. It evokes skeletal muscle hypertrophy by increasing anabolic pathway, which is essential to prevent sarcopenia in elderly population. In this study, we examined the effects of AM on skeletal muscle hypertrophy by focusing on the molecular mechanism. We employed an in vitro model to investigate whether AM-treated skeletal muscle, as represented by myotube C2C12 cells, was hypertrophic, and to further investigate the efficacy of AM-activated phosphorylation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling that must occur prior to myotube hypertrophy. The results showed that the myotubes formed larger multinucleated myotubes with increased diameter and thickness (1.16-fold relative to control group, p < 0.05). Administration of PI3K and mTOR inhibitors abolished AM-induced muscular hypertrophy. Moreover, AM-induced PI3K-mediated myotube hypertrophy was accompanied by the activation of Akt and mTOR signaling. We concluded that the AM is a nutritional activator to enhance muscular hypertrophy by increasing PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling phosphorylation. As the AM is effective in myotube hypertrophy, AM and its derivatives may be promising candidates for ergogenic aid to prevent sarcopenia.
... More than 100 ingredients have been isolated and identified from AM, mainly including flavonoids, saponins, polysaccharides, and amino acids [11]. ese ingredients show a variety of biological activities in vivo and in vitro, including immunomodulatory [12], anti-inflammatory [13,14], antiviral [15], antifatigue [16], antiaging [10], and hypoglycemic [17] effects. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) believes that AM has the function of invigorating spleen-qi and regenerating tissue and thus can improve gastrointestinal function and promote the healing of GU. ...
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Background: Astragalus membranaceus (AM, family: Leguminosae) exerts significant therapeutic effect on gastric ulcer (GU); however, there are scarce studies on its molecular mechanism against GU. This study aims to explore the key ingredients, key targets, and potential mechanisms of AM in the treatment of GU by utilizing network pharmacology and molecular docking. Methods: Several public databases were used to predict the targets of AM and GU, respectively, and the drug and disease targets were intersected to obtain the common targets. Next, the key ingredients and key targets were identified by constructing ingredient-target network and protein-protein-interaction (PPI) network. Gene Ontology biological processes (GOBP) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway enrichment analysis were carried out on the common targets in order to ascertain the biological processes and signaling pathways involved. Finally, molecular docking was conducted to verify the binding affinity between the key ingredients and key targets. Results: A total of 552 predicted targets were obtained from 23 screened active ingredients, of which 203 targets were the common targets with GU. Quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin were identified as the key ingredients by constructing ingredient-target network, and TP53, AKT1, VEGFA, IL6, TNF, CASP3, and EGFR were selected as the key targets by constructing PPI network. GOBP and KEGG pathway enrichment analysis suggested that the therapeutic effect of AM on GU involved multiple biological processes and signaling pathways related to inflammation, oxidative stress, apoptosis, cell proliferation, and angiogenesis. Molecular docking validation demonstrated that all key ingredients had good binding affinity with the key targets. Conclusion: This study revealed the key ingredients, key targets, and potential mechanisms of AM against GU, and these data may provide some crucial references for subsequent research and development of drugs for treating GU.
... Traditional Chinese medicine Jianpi herb "Astragalus membranaceus", a popular "Qi-tonifying" herb with a long history of use as a traditional Chinese medicine with multiple biological functions, improves exercise performance and ameliorates EIF, reduces exercise-induced accumulation of the byproducts blood lactate and ammonia with acute exercise challenge. [14] Ginseng, a famous traditional Chinese medicine Jianpi therapy, ameliorates EIF potentially by regulating the gut microbiota, mechanistically, the saccharides and ginsenosides in Ginseng play an important role in the treatment of EIF, they serve as energy substrates for specific intestinal bacteria, thereby usefully regulating the gut microbiota, most significantly, Ginseng triggers several unique and key molecular and cellular signaling pathways to perform the beneficial reaction on EIF. [15] Research showed that Rhodiola Crenulata relieves exhaustive EIF by inhibiting mitophagy in skeletal muscle, mechanistically, it may be related to the improvement of antioxidant activity, enhancement of energy production and suppression of mitophagy by inhibiting the PINK1/Parkin signaling pathway. ...
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Background: Exercise-induced fatigue (EIF) is a common occurrence in sports competition and training. It may cause trouble to athletes' motor skill execution and cognition. Although traditional Chinese medicine Jianpi therapy has been commonly used for EIF management, relevant evidence on the effectiveness and safety of Jianpi therapy is still unclear. Methods: Databases including PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, SinoMed, China Science and Technology Journal Database (VIP), China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), and Wanfang will be searched for relevant randomized controlled trials from databases from 2000 to 2021. Randomized controlled trials related to traditional Chinese medicine Jianpi therapy in the treatment and management of EIF will be included. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the data will be performed in RevMan 5.3 according to the Preferred Reporting Items of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Two authors independently performed the literature searching, data extraction, and quality evaluation. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool for randomized clinical trials. Results: This systematic review and meta-analysis will summarize the latest evidence for traditional Chinese medicine Jianpi therapy in EIF. The results will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal once completed. Conclusion: The conclusion of our research will provide evidence to support traditional Chinese medicine Jianpi therapy as an effective intervention for patients with EIF.OSF Registration DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/NRKX4.
... Zhang et al., 2019). A lot of studies had testified that extracts from foods such as Hericium erinaceus polysaccharides were important resources for postponing fatigue, promoting the scavenging of fatigue-related metabolites, and increasing exercise performance (Yeh et al., 2014), for example, Hericium erinaceus polysaccharides had been found to possess bioactivities of antifatigue (He et al., 2017). ...
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The aim of this study was to explore the primary chemical properties and anti-fatigue effect in vivo of Pholiota nameko polysaccharide (PNP). Through UV-visible spectrum, the absorption peaks of proteins, nucleic acids and pigments were not found. The organic functional groups of polysaccharides (3,289.97, 1,584.72, and 1,045.23 cm–1 so on) were measured by IR spectroscopy. The PNP was a semi-crystalline or non-crystalline substance, possessed a three-dimensional lump structure with a smooth, dense surface and amorphous structure according to the scanning electron microscopy and XRD images. Moreover, the PNP was chain or bright-spot structures formed by the entanglement of multiple polysaccharide fibers on the basis of atomic force microscopy. The results of anti-fatigue suggested the PNP could significantly extend the forced swim time from 121.58 ± 18.48 and 101.91 ± 14.27 min to 154.95 ± 24.26 and 134.13 ± 25.71 min in male and female mice respectively. The LDH activity was up to 31.68 ± 4.60 U/ml in male mice and 29.49 ± 5.12 U/ml in female mice. Meanwhile, the Ca²⁺-Mg²⁺-ATPase activity was reached to 2.49 ± 0.41 μmol/(mg·h) in male mice and 2.44 ± 0.29 μmol/(mg·h) in female mice. The SOD activity was increased to 5.92 ± 1.19 U/ml in male mice and 5.89 ± 0.98 U/ml in female mice, while the MDA content was decreased to 2.24 ± 0.34 nmol/mg in male mice and 2.02 ± 0.41 nmol/mg in female mice. These results showed a theoretical basis for application of the PNP in food and pharmacy as a natural physical strengthening substance. Practical applications Fatigue affects physical and mental health in vivo, which resulted in negative effects on everyday tasks, leisure activities, cognitive and behavioral performances and is very common in modern life. Therefore, this study was designed to explore the primary chemical properties and research the anti-fatigue effects of Pholiota nameko polysaccharide (PNP) in mice. And then, it would be a reference for the development and utilization of PNP as a kind of healthy food on sub-health.
... [6] HQ, also known as Astragalus membranaceus, is one of the most important qi tonic drugs in TCM. [7] HQ has the functions of protecting liver, [8] diuresis, [9] eliminating fatigue, [10] and enhancing human immunity. [1] Recent studies show that HQ and its ingredients activate telomerase and inhibit the process of replicating aging. ...
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Studies have shown that Huangqi (HQ) has anti-aging efficacy. However, its active ingredients and mechanisms for anti-aging are still unclear. In this study, we will systematically screen the active ingredients of HQ and explore the possible mechanism of HQ in prevention from aging through network pharmacology technology.The main active ingredients of HQ were obtained from Traditional Chinese Medicine Systems Pharmacology Database and Analysis Platform (TCMSP). The possible targets were predicted by TCMSP. The related targets for aging were obtained from GeneCards (The Human Gene Database) and Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) database. The common targets of HQ and aging were obtained using R 3.6.3 software. The protein-protein interaction (PPI) network and the ingredient-target-disease network were constructed using Cytoscape 3.7.2 software for visualization. In addition, the Gene Ontology (GO) functional enrichment and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway annotation of potential targets were performed using R 3.6.3 software.Based on the screening conditions, 16 active ingredients and 28 drug targets were obtained. The PPI network contained 29 proteins, including PTGS2, AR, NOS2, and so on. GO functional enrichment analysis obtained 40 GO items (P < .05). KEGG pathway enrichment analysis obtained 110 aging related pathways (P < .05), including hypoxia inducible factor 1 signaling pathway, PI3K-Akt signaling pathway, AGE-RAGE signaling pathway in diabetic complication, among others.Sixteen effective ingredients of HQ and 28 targets against aging were identified through network pharmacology. Multiple pathways were involved in the effect of HQ on preventing aging.
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Used as traditional Chinese medicine, Astragalus membranaceus (Fisch.) Bge. (A. membranaceus) roots are also used as tonic food material in a wide range of applications, while the leaves are left in the field, unused. Therefore, comprehensively exploring and utilizing the leaves will inevitably reduce the associated resource waste and environment pollution. In this study, the plant leaves were processed into tea using green tea processing technology. Bioactive components, antioxidant and antibacterial activities of the Leaf Tea (LT) and Dry Leaves (DL) were studied, and compared to that of the Dry Roots (DR). The results showed that the polysaccharides content (POL) in the DR (20.44%) was twice as high as the DL (10.18%) and LT (8.68%). However, the DL contained 36.85% more water-soluble extracts (WSE), 35.09% more ethanol-soluble extracts (ESE), 409.63% more total flavonoid content (TFC), 221.01% more total phenolic content (TPC) and 94.34% more proteins, and the LT contained 26.21% more WSE, 40.64% more ESE, 326.93% more TFC, 191.90% more TPC and 37.71% more proteins. The total amino acid (AA) content in the DR was 8.89%, while in that of the DL and LT were 24.18% and 28.96% respectively, nearly 3-times higher than that of the DR. The antioxidant activity of DR was much lower than those of DL and LT, both of which had antioxidant activity closer to that of Vitamin C (VC) and the antioxidant activities were even stronger when the optimal concentration was reached. Except for Aspergillus niger and Staphylococcus aureus, the DL and DR exhibited inhibition activities to Salmonella, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli and yeast, while the LT had antimicrobial activities against all the strains except for A. niger. In summary, compared with the most commonly used DR, the DL and LT from A. membranaceus contained higher bioactive components, and stronger antioxidant and antimicrobial activities. Producing leaf tea may be an appropriate way to economically and reasonably utilize the plant leaves which are by-products.
Astragalus membranaceus (A. membranaceus) is commonly used in various herbal formulations to treat several human and animal diseases. Polysaccharides, which are the major bioactive components in the A. membranaceus, exhibit various bioactive properties. However, the ability of A. membranaceus polysaccharides (APS) to activate the mucosal immune response has not been examined. We examined the effect of intranasal administration of APS on mucosal immune cell activation and the growth-inhibitory activity against pulmonary metastatic melanoma in mice by combination treatment with immune checkpoint blockade. The intranasal treatment of APS increased the number of lineage⁻CD11c⁺ dendritic cell (DCs) in the mesenteric lymph nodes (mLN) through the upregulation of CC-chemokine receptor 7 expression. Moreover, intranasal treatment of APS activated DCs, which further stimulated natural killer (NK) and T cells in the mLN. The APS/anti-PD-L1 antibody combination inhibited the pulmonary infiltration of B16 melanoma cells. The depletion of NK cells and CD8 T cells in mice mitigated the anti-cancer effect of this combination, thereby highlighting the critical role of NK cells and CD8 T cells in mediating anti-cancer immunity. These findings demonstrated that APS could be used as a topical mucosal adjuvant to enhance the immune check point inhibitor anti-cancer effect.
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The mechanisms that account for the strength loss after contraction-induced muscle injury remain controversial. We present data showing that (1) most of the early strength loss results from a failure of excitation-contraction coupling and (2) a slow loss of contractile protein in the days after injury prolongs the recovery time. Keywords: strength, damage, calcium, contractile protein, sarcoplasmic reticulum, plasmalemma
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To verify the beneficial effects of whey protein (WP) supplementation on health promotion and enhancing exercise performance in an aerobic-exercise training protocol. In total, 40 male ICR mice (4 weeks old) were divided into 4 groups (n=10 per group): sedentary control with vehicle (SC) or WP supplementation (4.1 g⋅kg, SC+WP), and exercise training with vehicle (ET) or WP supplementation (4.1 g⋅kg, ET+WP). Animals in the ET and ET+WP groups underwent swim endurance training for 6 weeks, 5 days per week. Exercise performance was evaluated by forelimb grip strength and exhaustive swim time as well as by changes in body composition and biochemical parameters at the end of the experiment. ET significantly decreased final body and muscle weight and levels of albumin, total protein, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, total cholesterol, and triacylglycerol. ET significantly increased grip strength; relative weight (%) of liver, heart, brown adipose tissue (BAT) and levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), creatine kinase (CK), and total bilirubin. WP supplementation significantly decreased final body, muscle, liver, BAT, and kidney weight, and relative weight (%) of muscle, liver, and BAT as well as levels of AST, LDH, CK, and uric acid. In addition, WP supplementation slightly increased endurance time and significantly increased grip strength and levels of albumin and total protein. WP supplementation improved exercise performance, body composition and biochemical assessments in mice and may be an effective ergogenic aid in aerobic exercise training.
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The disease burden of diabetes mellitus is increasing throughout the world. The need for more potent drugs to complement the present anti-diabetic drugs has become an imperative. Astragalus membranaceus, a key component of most Chinese herbal anti-diabetic formulas, has been an important prospect for lead anti-diabetic compounds. It has been progressively studied for its anti-diabetic properties. Ethnopharmacological studies have established its potential to alleviate diabetes mellitus. Recent studies have sought to relate its chemical constituents to types 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus. Its total polysaccharides, saponins, and flavonoids fractions and several isolated compounds have been the most studied. The total polysaccharides fraction demonstrated activity to both types 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus. This paper discusses the anti-diabetic effects and pharmacological action of the chemical constituents in relation to types 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus.
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Astragaloside IV (AS-IV), one of the major active constituents of Astragalus membranaceus in Traditional Chinese Medicine, has been widely used to treat ischemic diseases. However, the potential mechanism is this action is unclear. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that AS-IV might promote angiogenesis through multiple signaling pathways. Our data indicate that AS-IV treatment promotes umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) proliferation, migration, and tube formation. AS-IV treatment also activates JAK2/STAT3 and ERK1/2 signaling pathways, and up-regulates endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) expression and nitric oxide (NO) production. AS-IV-induced angiogenesis in HUVECs is significantly blocked by specific kinase inhibitors. Our study indicated that AS-IV is a key regulator of NO and angiogenesis through the JAK2/STAT3 and ERK1/2 pathways, which provides a mechanistic basis for the potential use of this compound in the treatment of clinical ischemic diseases.
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Resveratrol (RES) is a well-known phytocompound and food component which has antioxidative and multifunctional bioactivities. However, there is limited evidence for the effects of RES on physical fatigue and exercise performance. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential beneficial effects of trans-RES on fatigue and ergogenic functions following physiological challenge. Male ICR mice from four groups (n = 8 per group) were orally administered RES for 21 days at 0, 25, 50, and 125 mg/kg/day, which were respectively designated the vehicle, RES-25, RES-50, and RES-125 groups. The anti-fatigue activity and exercise performance were evaluated using forelimb grip strength, exhaustive swimming time, and levels of serum lactate, ammonia, glucose, and creatine kinase (CK) after a 15-min swimming exercise. The exhaustive swimming time of the RES-25 group (24.72 ± 7.35 min) was significantly (p = 0.0179) longer than that of vehicle group (10.83 ± 1.15 min). A trend analysis revealed that RES treatments increased the grip strength. RES supplementation also produced dose-dependent decreases in serum lactate and ammonia levels and CK activity and also an increase in glucose levels in dose-dependent manners after the 15-min swimming test. The mechanism was related to the increased energy utilization (as blood glucose), and decreased serum levels of lactate, ammonia, and CK. Therefore, RES could be a potential agent with an anti-fatigue pharmacological effect.
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A new cycloartane-type triterpene glycoside, agroastragaloside V (1) was isolated from the roots of Astragalus membranaceus. The structure was identified as 3-O-β-(2'-O-acetyl)-D-xylopyranosyl-6-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-(24S)-3β,6α,24α,25-tetrahydroxy- 9,19-cyclolanostane, by means of spectroscopic methods, including HR-FAB/MS, 1D NMR (1H, 13C, DEPT), 2D NMR (gCOSY, gHSQC, gHMBC, NOESY), and IR spectroscopy. Four known cycloartane glycosides, namely, agroastragaloside I (2), agroastragaloside II (3), isoastragaloside II (4) and astragaloside IV (5) were also isolated. All isolated compounds were tested for the ability to inhibit LPS-induced nitric oxide production in RAW264.7 macrophages.
Ethnopharmacological relevance: Astragaloside IV (As IV) is one of the main effective components isolated from the traditional Chinese medical herb Astragalus membranaceus. The protective effect of Astragalus membranaceus on myocardial hypertrophy has been extensively proved. To test the hypothesis that Astragaloside IV can ameliorate the myocardial hypertrophy and inflammatory effect induced by β-adrenergic hyperactivity, we carried out in vivo and in vitro experiments. Material and methods: In in vivo study, the isoproterenol (Iso) (5 mg kg(-1) d(-1)) was used as a model of myocardial hypertrophy by intraperitoneal injection. SD rats were randomly assigned to following six groups: A: the control; B: Iso group; C: Iso plus As IV 20 mg kg(-1) d(-1); D: Iso plus As IV 40 mg kg(-1) d(-1); E: Iso plus As IV 80 mg kg(-1) d(-1); F: Iso plus Propranolol 40 mg kg(-1) d(-1). In in vitro study, cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes were pretreated with As IV (3, 10, 30 μ mol L(-1)), Propranolol (2 μ mol L(-1)) and BAY11-7082 (5 μ mol L(-1)) for 30 min, and then incubated with Iso (10 μ mol L(-1)) for 48 h. For the rats in each group, the heart mass index (HMI) and the left ventricular mass index (LVMI) were measured. To measure the transverse diameter of left ventricular myocardial cells (TDM), the hematoxylin-eosin (HE) staining method was applied. In addition, the volume and the total protein content of cardiomyocytes were measured, the mRNA expression of ANP and TLR4 were quantified by RT-PCR, the protein expression of TLR4, IκBα and p65 were quantified by Western blot, and the level of TNF-α and IL-6 were measured by ELISA. Results: In vivo: Comparing the Iso group to the control, the HMI, LVMI, TDM were significantly increased; the protein expression of TLR4 and p65 were increased, while the IκBα were decreased; the expression of ANP, TLR4 mRNA, and TNF-α, IL-6 in serum were significantly increased. These changes could be partly prevented by As IV and Pro. In vitro: the over-expression of the cell size, total protein content could remarkably down-regulated by As IV and Pro, and the results of RT-PCR, Western blot and ELISA were similar to those of in vivo. Conclusions: The results of these studies indicate that Astragaloside IV has good protective effect on myocardial hypertrophy induced by isoproterenol. More specifically, the cardioprotection is related to inhibiting the TLR4/NF-кB signaling pathway and the attenuating inflammatory effect.
To review the pharmacological effects and mechanisms of action of Astragaloside IV in Huangqi (Radix Astragali Mongolici). Aticles focusing on Astragaloside IV in English and Chinese in databases were collected and reviewed in order to summarize the latest extraction separation, pharmacokinetics, and the pharmacological effects of astrageloside IV. Protective effects of Astrageloside IV on the cardiovascular system, immune, digestive, nervous system were identified, and the action mechanisms were associated with regulation of the calcium balance, anti-oxydant, antiapoptosis, antivirus, and so on. Astrageloside IV has broad application prospects, especially in cardiovascular diseases, digestive diseases, cancer and other modern high incidence, high-risk diseases, and could be developed as a medicine.
Astragaloside IV (AS-IV) is one of the main active constituents of Astragalus membranaceus, which has various actions on the cardiovascular system. However, its electrophysiological mechanisms are not clear. In the present study, we investigated the effects of AS-IV on action potentials and membrane currents using the whole-cell patch clamp technique in isolated guinea-pig ventricular myocytes. AS-IV prolonged the action potential duration (APD) at all three tested concentrations. The peak effect was achieved with 1×10(-6) m, at which concentration AS-IV significantly prolonged the APD at 95% repolarization from 313.1±38.9 to 785.3±83.7 ms. AS-IV at 1×10(-6) m also enhanced the inward rectifier K(+) currents (IK1) and inhibited the delayed rectifier K(+) currents (IK). AS-IV (1×10(-6) m) strongly depressed the peak of voltage-dependent Ca(2+) channel current (ICaL) from -607.3±37.5 to -321.1±38.3 pA. However, AS-IV was not found to affect the Na(+) currents. Taken together, AS-IV prolonged APD of guinea-pig ventricular myocytes, which might be explained by its inhibition of IK. AS-IV also influences Ca(2+) signaling through suppressing ICaL.