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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 848093, 13 pages
Research Article

Identification of Major Active Ingredients Responsible for Burn Wound Healing of Centella asiatica Herbs

1State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, Department of Pharmacology Chinese Materia Medica, China Pharmaceutical University, 24 Tong Jia Xiang, Nanjing 210009, China
2Center for New Drug Research and Development, College of Life Science, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210024, China
3Department of Burns and Plastic Surgery, Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital, Medical School of Nanjing University, Nanjing 210008, China

Received 7 November 2012; Accepted 6 December 2012

Academic Editor: Cassandra L. Quave

Copyright © 2012 Fang Wu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Centella asiatica herbs have been prescribed as a traditional medicine for wound healing in China and Southeast Asia for a long time. They contain many kinds of triterpenoid compounds, mainly including glycosides (asiaticoside and madecassoside) and corresponding aglycones (asiatic acid and madecassic acid). To identify which is the major active constituent, a comprehensive and comparative study of these compounds was performed. In vitro, primary human skin fibroblasts, originating from healthy human foreskin samples, were treated with various concentrations of asiaticoside, madecassoside, asiatic acid, and madecassic acid, respectively. Cell proliferation, collagen synthesis, MMP-1/TIMP-1 balance, and TGF-β/Smad signaling pathway were investigated. In vivo, mice were orally administered with the four compounds mentioned above for two weeks after burn injury. The speed and quality of wound healing, as well as TGF-β1 levels in skin tissues, were examined. Interestingly, in contrast to prevalent postulations, asiaticoside and madecassoside themselves, rather than their corresponding metabolites asiatic acid and madecassic acid, are recognized as the main active constituents of C. asiatica herbs responsible for burn wound healing. Furthermore, madecassoside is more effective than asiaticoside ( for procollagen type III synthesis in vitro, for wound healing speed, and for wound healing pattern in vivo, correspondingly).