Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 349–357

Ursane Triterpenoids Inhibit Atherosclerosis and Xanthoma in LDL Receptor Knockout Mice

Basic Pharmacology

DOI: 10.1007/s10557-006-0509-4

Cite this article as:
Zhang, Q., Chang, Z. & Wang, Q. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther (2006) 20: 349. doi:10.1007/s10557-006-0509-4



In order to determine the mechanism of triterpenes, a class of secondary metabolites in plants, in modulating progression of vascular atherosclerotic lesions, we isolated three ursane triterpenoids (euscaphic acid, tormentic acid and 2α-hydroxyursolic acid) from aerial part of Salvia miltirrhiza Bge. and fed LDLr−/− mice the isolated compounds at a dose of 10 mg/kg p.o. for 24 weeks.

Materials and methods

The treated mice were raised with a cholesterol-enriched (1.25%) diet. Implying serum and aorta MCP-1 analysis, we found that all mice treated with the compounds exhibited a significant reduction of whole body and vascular inflammation.


The reduction of macrophage cells’ number in aortic atherosclerotic lesions suggests that triterpenes treatment results in the development of a more stable plaque phenotype. Analysis of the structure-activity relationships demonstrates that compounds with a β-orientated hydrogen-bond forming group at C-3 exhibit more potent anti-atherogenic effect than the α-counterpart on the development of atherosclerosis and xanthoma. However, the biological activities of the compounds are significantly reduced when they have C-19 hydrogen-bonds.


These Results suggest that down-regulation of MCP-1 is the main mechanism for antiatherogenic activity of triterpenes and MCP-1 might play important roles in the development of atherosclerosis and xanthoma.

Key words

ursane triterpenesatherosclerosisxanthomaMCP-1LDLr−/− mice

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chinese Materia Medica AnalysisChina Pharmaceutical UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Model Animal Research Center of Nanjing UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China