Targeting foam cell formation and macrophage polarization in atherosclerosis: The Therapeutic potential of rhubarb.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Jun 27 ;129:110433. Epub 2020 Jun 27. PMID: 32768936
Atherosclerosis, a chronic inflammatory disease associated with high morbidity and mortality, is characterized by the accumulation of foam cells in the arterial wall. It has long been acknowledged that the formation of foam cells is caused by excess lipid uptake and abnormal cholesterol metabolism function. And increasing evidence shows that inhibiting foam cell formation is a promising way to suppress the development of atherosclerotic lesions. In addition to excess foam cells accumulation, inflammation is another major contributor of atherosclerotic lesions. Recently, macrophage polarization has been demonstrated to play a vital role in the regulation of inflammatory response. Generally, macrophages mainly polarized into two phenotypes: either classically activated pro-inflammatory M1 or alternatively activated anti-inflammatory M2. And targeting macrophage polarization has been considered as a feasible approach to prevent the development of atherosclerosis. At present, the anti-atherosclerosis drugs mainly classified into two types: lipid-lowering drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs. A large part of those drugs belong to western medicine, and various side effects are unavoidable. Interestingly, in recent years, Traditional Chinese medicine has attracted growing attention because of its good efficacy and low negative effects. Rhubarb (called Da Huang in Chinese) is a famous folk medicine with a wide spectrum of pharmacological effects, such as lipid-lowering and anti-inflammatory effects. In this review, we summarized current findings about the regulatory effects of Rhubarb on foam cell formation and macrophage polarization, with emphasis on the molecular mechanisms of action that have been revealed during the past two decades, to better understand its pivotal role in the treatment and prevention of atherosclerosis.