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      Cinnamomum cassia Bark in Two Herbal Formulas Increases Life Span in Caenorhabditis elegans via Insulin Signaling and Stress Response Pathways


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          Proving the efficacy and corresponding mode of action of herbal supplements is a difficult challenge for evidence-based herbal therapy. A major hurdle is the complexity of herbal preparations, many of which combine multiple herbs, particularly when the combination is assumed to be vitally important to the effectiveness of the herbal therapy. This issue may be addressed through the use of contemporary methodology and validated animal models.

          Methods and Principal Findings

          In this study, two commonly used traditional herbal formulas, Shi Quan Da Bu Tang (SQDB) and Huo Luo Xiao Ling Dan (HLXL) were evaluated using a survival assay and oxidative stress biomarkers in a well-established C. elegans model of aging. HLXL is an eleven herb formula modified from a top-selling traditional herbal formula for the treatment of arthritic joint pain. SQDB consists of ten herbs often used for fatigue and energy, particularly in the aged. We demonstrate here that SQDB significantly extend life span in a C. elegans model of aging. Among all individual herbs tested, two herbs Cinnamomum cassia bark (Chinese pharmaceutical name: Cinnamomi Cortex, CIN) and Panax ginseng root (Chinese pharmaceutical name: Ginseng Radix, GS) significantly extended life span in C. elegans. CIN in both SQDB and HLXL formula extended life span via modulation of multiple longevity assurance genes, including genes involved in insulin signaling and stress response pathways. All the life-span-extending herbs (SQDB, CIN and GS) also attenuated levels of H 2O 2 and enhanced small heat shock protein expression. Furthermore, the life span-extending herbs significantly delayed human amyloid beta (Aβ)-induced toxicity in transgenic C. elegans expressing human Aβ.


          These results validate an invertebrate model for rapid, systematic evaluation of commonly used Chinese herbal formulations and may provide insight for designing future evidence-based herbal therapy(s).

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          Most cited references57

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          Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States, 1990-1997: results of a follow-up national survey.

          A prior national survey documented the high prevalence and costs of alternative medicine use in the United States in 1990. To document trends in alternative medicine use in the United States between 1990 and 1997. Nationally representative random household telephone surveys using comparable key questions were conducted in 1991 and 1997 measuring utilization in 1990 and 1997, respectively. A total of 1539 adults in 1991 and 2055 in 1997. Prevalence, estimated costs, and disclosure of alternative therapies to physicians. Use of at least 1 of 16 alternative therapies during the previous year increased from 33.8% in 1990 to 42.1% in 1997 (P < or = .001). The therapies increasing the most included herbal medicine, massage, megavitamins, self-help groups, folk remedies, energy healing, and homeopathy. The probability of users visiting an alternative medicine practitioner increased from 36.3% to 46.3% (P = .002). In both surveys alternative therapies were used most frequently for chronic conditions, including back problems, anxiety, depression, and headaches. There was no significant change in disclosure rates between the 2 survey years; 39.8% of alternative therapies were disclosed to physicians in 1990 vs 38.5% in 1997. The percentage of users paying entirely out-of-pocket for services provided by alternative medicine practitioners did not change significantly between 1990 (64.0%) and 1997 (58.3%) (P=.36). Extrapolations to the US population suggest a 47.3% increase in total visits to alternative medicine practitioners, from 427 million in 1990 to 629 million in 1997, thereby exceeding total visits to all US primary care physicians. An estimated 15 million adults in 1997 took prescription medications concurrently with herbal remedies and/or high-dose vitamins (18.4% of all prescription users). Estimated expenditures for alternative medicine professional services increased 45.2% between 1990 and 1997 and were conservatively estimated at $21.2 billion in 1997, with at least $12.2 billion paid out-of-pocket. This exceeds the 1997 out-of-pocket expenditures for all US hospitalizations. Total 1997 out-of-pocket expenditures relating to alternative therapies were conservatively estimated at $27.0 billion, which is comparable with the projected 1997 out-of-pocket expenditures for all US physician services. Alternative medicine use and expenditures increased substantially between 1990 and 1997, attributable primarily to an increase in the proportion of the population seeking alternative therapies, rather than increased visits per patient.
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            Sirtuin activators mimic caloric restriction and delay ageing in metazoans.

            Caloric restriction extends lifespan in numerous species. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae this effect requires Sir2 (ref. 1), a member of the sirtuin family of NAD+-dependent deacetylases. Sirtuin activating compounds (STACs) can promote the survival of human cells and extend the replicative lifespan of yeast. Here we show that resveratrol and other STACs activate sirtuins from Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster, and extend the lifespan of these animals without reducing fecundity. Lifespan extension is dependent on functional Sir2, and is not observed when nutrients are restricted. Together these data indicate that STACs slow metazoan ageing by mechanisms that may be related to caloric restriction.
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              Expression of human beta-amyloid peptide in transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans.

              C Link (1995)
              Transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes have been engineered to express potentially amyloidic human proteins. These animals contain constructs in which the muscle-specific unc-54 promoter/enhancer of C. elegans drives the expression of the appropriate coding regions derived from human cDNA clones. Animals containing constructs expressing the 42-amino acid beta-amyloid peptide (derived from human amyloid precursor protein cDNA) produce muscle-specific deposits immunoreactive with anti-beta-amyloid polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies. A subset of these deposits also bind the amyloid-specific dye thioflavin S, indicating that these deposits have the tinctural characteristics of classic amyloid. Co-expression of beta-peptide and transthyretin, a protein implicated in preventing the formation of insoluble beta-amyloid, leads to a dramatic reduction in the number of dye-reactive deposits. These results suggest that this invertebrate model may be useful for in vivo investigation of factors that modulate amyloid formation.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                22 February 2010
                : 5
                : 2
                [1 ]Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America
                [2 ]Center for Integrative Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America
                [3 ]Division of Biostatistics, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America
                [4 ]Brain Disease Research Center, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, Korea
                [5 ]Department of Medicinal Plant Resources, Nambu University, Gwangju, Korea
                [6 ]College of Oriental Medicine, Kyunghee University, Seoul, Korea
                Purdue University, United States of America
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: YBY YL. Performed the experiments: YBY. Analyzed the data: LD MT. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: LL BSS. Wrote the paper: LD YL.

                Yu et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 10
                Research Article
                Evidence-Based Healthcare
                Plant Biology/Plant Biochemistry and Physiology
                Pharmacology/Drug Development



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