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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 938425, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/938425
Research Article

Epimedium Flavonoids Counteract the Side Effects of Glucocorticoids on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis

1Key Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai 200040, China
2Department of Integrative Medicine, Shanghai Children's Medical Center, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200127, China
3Department of Geriatrics, Huadong Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai 200040, China
4Department of Perinatal Medicine, The Royal Women's Hospital, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia
5School of Acupuncture, Massage and Rehabilitation, Yunnan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Kunming 650500, China
6Shanghai Institute of Geriatrics, Huadong Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai 200040, China

Received 19 April 2013; Revised 10 August 2013; Accepted 19 August 2013

Academic Editor: Jenny M. Wilkinson

Copyright © 2013 Jianhua Huang 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.

Abstract

Our previous studies demonstrated that the epimedium herb, when simultaneously used with GCs, counteracted suppressive effects of GCs on the HPA axis without adverse influence on the therapeutic action of GCs. Here, total flavones were extracted from the epimedium flavonoids (EFs) and then used to investigate whether EFs provide protective effects on the HPA axis. We found that GCs induced a significant decrease in body weight gain, adrenal gland weight gain, and plasma adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and corticosterone levels. After treatment with EFs, body weight gain, adrenal gland weight gain, and plasma corticosterone level were significantly restored, whilst plasma ACTH level was partially elevated. EFs were also shown to promote cell proliferation in the outer layer of adrenal cortex and to enhance the migration of newly divided cells toward the inner layer. To elucidate the underlying mechanisms, the mRNA expression of insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) was measured, and EFs significantly upregulated IGF-II expression. Our results indicated that EFs counteract the suppression of the HPA axis induced by GCs. This may involve both the ACTH and IGF-II pathways and thereby promote regeneration of the adrenal cortex suggesting a potential clinical application of EFs against the suppressive effects of GCs on the HPA axis.