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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016, Article ID 7468979, 8 pages
Research Article

Radix Astragali Stimulates p38 MARK Phosphorylation in Pediatric Patients with β-Thalassemia

1Guangzhou Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou 510130, China
2Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou 510515, China

Received 27 April 2016; Revised 1 September 2016; Accepted 10 October 2016

Academic Editor: Monica Borgatti

Copyright © 2016 Zhuoming Lu 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.


A previous study conducted by our group demonstrated that Radix Astragali compounded with Codonopsis pilosula and Plastrum testudinis was effective in treating pediatric β-thalassemia in a randomized, controlled clinical trial. However, the mechanism of action that underpins this treatment remains to be elucidated. Blood was collected from patients participating in this clinical trial and nucleated red blood cell-enriched mononuclear cells were isolated to facilitate the extraction of RNA and protein. RT-PCR was used to monitor the expression of globin genes and p38 MAPK, and total and phosphorylated p38 MAPK expression was assessed using Western blot analysis. Expression of α-, β-, and Aγ-globin mRNAs was not significantly affected following treatment with R. Astragali or the compounded formulation. However, Gγ-globin mRNA levels increased significantly in both treatment groups (when compared with pretreatment levels) following 12 weeks of treatment. Moreover, posttreatment Gγ-globin expression was significantly higher in both treatment groups compared with the control group. Although neither p38 MAPK mRNA nor protein levels were affected by the treatments, posttreatment phosphorylation of p38 MAPK was significantly increased in the R. Astragali and compounded formulation groups compared with the control group. These data suggest that the molecular mechanisms that underpin the efficacious use of R. Astragali (and its compounded formulation) in pediatric β-thalassemia treatment facilitate the induction of Gγ-globin expression following activation of p38 MAPK.