Pharmacological studies indicate that Salvia miltiorrhiza extract (SME) can improve cardiac and blood vessel function. However, there is limited knowledge regarding the effects (exerted through epigenetic regulation) of SME and newly derived single compounds, with the exception of tanshinone IIA and IB, on obesity-induced metabolic disorders. In this study, we administered SME or dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as controls to male C57BL/J6 mice after they were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 4 weeks. SME treatment significantly reduced body weight, fasting plasma glucose, tri-glyceride levels, insulin resistance, and adipogenesis/lipogenesis gene expression in treated mice compared with controls. Transcriptome array analysis revealed that the expression of numerous transcriptional factors, including activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) and C/EBPα homologous protein (CHOP), was significantly higher in the SME group. ST32db, a novel synthetic derivative similar in structure to compounds from S. miltiorrhiza extract, ameliorates obesity and obesity-in-duced metabolic syndrome in HFD-fed wild-type mice but not ATF3−/− mice. ST32db treatment of 3T3-L1 adipocytes suppresses lipogenesis/adipogenesis through the ATF3 pathway to directly inhibit C/EBPα expression and indirectly inhibit the CHOP pathway. Overall, ST32db, a single com-pound modified from S. miltiorrhiza extract, has anti-obesity effects through ATF3-mediated C/EBPα downregulation and the CHOP pathway. Thus, SME and ST32db may reduce obesity and diabetes in mice, indicating the potential of both SME and ST32db as therapeutic drugs for the treatment of obesity-induced metabolic syndrome.
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