Orekhov AN, Ivanova EA.
Phytomedicine. 2016 Jan 25. pii: S0944-7113(16)00019-2. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2016.01.003. [Epub ahead of print]
Atherosclerosis remains a major problem in the modern society being a cause of life-threatening cardiovascular diseases. Subclinical atherosclerosis can be present for years before the symptoms become obvious, and first manifestations of the disease in a form of acute ischemia of organs are often fatal. The development of atherosclerosis is characterized by lipid accumulation in the aortic wall and formation of foam cells overloaded with large amounts of lipid inclusions in the cytoplasm. Current therapy of atherosclerosis is aimed mostly at the normalization of the blood lipid profile, and has no direct activity on the atherosclerotic plaque development. It is therefore necessary to continue the search for substances that possess a direct anti-atherosclerotic effect, preventing the cholesterol deposition in the arterial wall cells and reducing the existing plaques.
Medicinal plants with potential anti-atherosclerotic activity are especially interesting in that regard, as plant-based medications are often characterized by good tolerability and are suitable for long-term therapy. The evaluation of novel active substances requires the establishment of reliable models of atherogenesis. In this review we discuss cellular models based on cultured human aortic cells. We also discuss several examples of successful application of these models for evaluation of anti-atherosclerotic activity of natural products of botanical origin based on measurable parameters, such as intracellular cholesterol accumulation.
We describe several examples of successful screening and clinical studies evaluating natural products that can be beneficial for prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis, including the subclinical (asymptomatic) forms.
Several substances of botanical origin have been demonstrated to be active for treatment and prevention of atherosclerosis. The obtained results encourage future studies of naturally occurring anti-atherosclerotic agents.
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Anti-atherosclerotic drug; Artery; Atherosclerosis; Cellular model; Nutraceuticals