Baicalein (5,6,7-trioxyflavone-7-O-beta-D-glucuronide) derived from the Chinese herb Scutellaria baicalensis is well known as a lipoxygenase inhibitor. We investigated baicalein-mediated inhibitory effects on vascular smooth-muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation and intimal hyperplasia by balloon angioplasty in the rat. In vascular injury studies, baicalein significantly suppressed intimal hyperplasia by balloon angioplasty. Baicalein significantly inhibited cell proliferation via a lipoxygenase-independent pathway using [3H] thymidine incorporation, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT), and flow cytometry assays. At the concentrations used, no cytotoxic effect on cell culture was found. Baicalein blocks cell-cycle progression in S/G2/M phase, consistent with the cell-cycle effects, baicalein significant inhibited cyclin D1, p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), and Akt phosphorylation without change in the other cell-cycle regulatory proteins. Furthermore, baicalein attenuated serum-induced deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) binding activity of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB). These results show that baicalein blocks cell proliferation via blocking cell-cycle progression and proliferating events, including p42/44 MAPK and Akt activations as well as NF-κB activation. It also inhibits intimal hyperplasia after balloon vascular injury in the rat, indicating the therapeutic potential for treating restenosis after arterial injury.
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