Document Type

Journal Article


School of Chinese Medicine




Pinelliae Rhizoma (PR) is a commonly used Chinese medicinal herb, but it has been frequently reported about its toxicity. According to the traditional Chinese medicine theory, processing can reduce the toxicity of the herbs. Here, we aim to determine if processing reduces the toxicity of raw PR, and to explore the underlying mechanisms of raw PR-induced toxicities and the toxicity-reducing effect of processing. Biochemical and histopathological approaches were used to evaluate the toxicities of raw and processed PR. Rat serum metabolites were analyzed by LC-TOF-MS. Ingenuity pathway analysis of the metabolomics data highlighted the biological pathways and network functions involved in raw PR-induced toxicities and the toxicity-reducing effect of processing, which were verified by molecular approaches. Results showed that raw PR caused cardiotoxicity, and processing reduced the toxicity. Inhibition of mTOR signaling and activation of the TGF-β pathway contributed to raw PR-induced cardiotoxicity, and free radical scavenging might be responsible for the toxicity-reducing effect of processing. Our data shed new light on the mechanisms of raw PR-induced cardiotoxicity and the toxicity-reducing effect of processing. This study provides scientific justifications for the traditional processing theory of PR, and should help in optimizing the processing protocol and clinical combinational application of PR.

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Scientific Reports



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Article number: 34692 (2016)


Nature Publishing Group

Peer Reviewed



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This work was supported by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (12125116); the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81673649); Science, Technology and Innovation Commission of Shenzhen (JCYJ20140807091945050, JCYJ20150630164505508 and JCYJ20160229210327924); Guangdong Natural Science Foundation (2016A030313007); Chinese Pharmacopoeia Commission (201207004-10); and the Hong Kong Baptist University (FRG1/15-16/050 and FRG2/15-16/020). We thank our colleagues Prof. Hubiao Chen for providing the picture of Pinellia ternata (Thunb.) Breit., Brian Chi-Yan Cheng and Hiu-Yee Kwan for polishing the language.



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JA-5007-29372_suppl.doc (1097 kB)
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JA-5007-29372_suppl.doc (1097 kB)
Supplementary information