1Department of Pharmacy, Xuanwu Hospital of Capital Medical University, Beijing 100053, China 2Dongzhimen Hospital, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing 100700, China 3Department of Pharmacy, Hospital of T.C.M.S Shijingshan District, Beijing 100043, China 4College of Pharmacy, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg R3E 0T5, Manitoba, Canada 5Institute of Cerebrovascular Disease Research and Department of Neurology, Xuanwu Hospital of Capital Medical University, Beijing 100053, China
Aging is a progressive accumulation of changes in the body, which increases the susceptibility to diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Recently, Chinese medicinal herbs have been investigated for their therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of some aging-related diseases. Rhodiola, known as ‘Hongjingtian’ in Chinese, has been reported to have anti-aging activity. Here, we provide a comprehensive review about its origin, chemical constituents, and effects on aging-related diseases.
Rock crevices on mountain slopes, grassland on slopes
Table 1 Species, geographical distributions, and growing environments of medicinal Rhodiola.
Component or extraction method
Upregulates p-GSK-3β and downregulates p-tau
Upregulates PI3K/AKT signaling
Weakens the abnormal processing of APP
Induces antioxidant enzymes TRX, HO-1, and PRXI
Prevents caspase 3 activation, increases BAX/BCL-2 ratio, and reverses hippocampal neuronal loss
Protects mitochondria against sodium-azide-induced damage
Reduces TNF-α and IL-1ß levels
Attenuates levels of IL-6 and TNF-α
Attenuates NE and 5-HT levels in the prefrontal cortex
Regulates BDNF/TRKB signaling pathway
Reduces neuronal death and behavioral dysfunction mediated by polyQ
Regulates AMPK/SIRT1/FOXO1 signaling
Attenuates H2O2-induced cell damage by downregulating Ca2+ and ROS via cAMP-dependent pathway
Promotes mitochondrial biogenesis and functions
Increases the phosphorylation of AKT and ERK1/2; reduces the intracellular levels of ROS and the phosphorylation of JNK and p38 MAPK
Reduces the contents of CK, CK-MB, and LDH; increases GSH-Px and SOD activities; and reduces MDA content in liver tissue
Increases levels of VEGF; upregulates HIF-1α protein expression and induces its translocation
Regulates BCL-2 protein family, reduces the expression of BAX; rescues the balance of pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins
Increases phosphorylation of AKT and reduces activation of caspase 3; markedly increases BCL-2/BAX ratio; preserves mitochondrial transmembrane potential
Reduces diabetes-induced oxidative stress
Inhibits the function and expression of CaL channels in vascular smooth muscle cells
Inhibits neuroinflammation and P2X7 receptor expression
Inhibits lipid peroxidation
Acute liver fibrosis
Antioxidant activity and inhibits the function of HIF-1α
Inhibits the mTOR pathway and induces autophagy
Reduces intracellular ROS generation and phosphor-p38 MAPK expression
Downregulates the ROS/PKC/ERK1/2 signaling pathway
Inhibits the JAK2/STAT3-dependent pathway
Reduces tumor-induced angiogenesis
Regulates ET-1, NO, VEGF, ACE, NF-κB, TNF-α, and IL-6 expressions
Water extract of Rhodiola rosea
Inhibits MAO-A and MAO-B activities and prevents the degradation of important neurotransmitters in PD patients
Reduces iNOS expression
Causes withdrawal of sympathetic vasomotor tone and the circulatory angiotensin system
Increases β-endorphin secretion from adrenal glands to activate opioid μ-receptors
Increases intracellular ROS in K-562 cell line; induces apoptosis, drives the cell to an oxidative-stress-induced cell death; arrests cell-cycle progression at G2/M
Ethanol extract of Rhodiola rosea
Inhibits the activities of α-amylase, α-glucosidase, and ACE
Lowers the expression of TGF-β1 in renal tissues
Polysaccharide from Rhodiola rosea
T lymphocytes in tumors
Increases the spleen and thymus indices and the production of cytokines (IL-2, TNF-α, and IFN-γ); increases the CD4+/CD8+ ratio
Inhibits the activity of α-glucosidase
Oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPCRR)
Increases SOD and GSH-Px activities
Methanol extract of Rhodiola rosea
Inhibits MAO-A and MAO-B activities and prevents the degradation of important neurotransmitters in PD patients
Ethanol extract of Rhodiola crenulata
Inhibits α-amylase, α-glucosidase, and ACE activities
Water extracts of Rhodiola crenulata
Inhibits α-amylase, α-glucosidase, and ACE activities
3% rosavin and 0.8% salidroside from Rhodiola rosea
Increases the blood-brain barrier permeability to precursors of DA and 5-HT;induces neural stem cell proliferation in the hippocampus
Rhodiola crenulata root extract
Increases glycogen synthesis and the expression of regulatory enzymes in HepG2 cells; suppresses fat accumulation in hepatic cells under high-glucose conditions; is associated with the AMPK signaling pathway
Rhodiola crenulata root extract
Suppresses fructose-induced hyperinsulinemia and increases the insulin resistance index by modulating sarcolemmal and intracellular CD36 redistribution
Water extract of radix et rhizoma Rhodiola kirilowii
Elevates the expressions of HIF-1α, HIF-1β, and VEGF
Rhodiola rosea extract
Increases the levels of endogenous opioid peptides
Extract of Rhodiola rosea
Regulates the expression of monoamines and opioid peptides to increase the adaptability and activity of the central nervous system
Modulates the activity and levels of ACh in the brain
Increases the levels of NE, DA, 5-HT and ACh
Extract of Rhodiola rosea
Facilitates production and proliferation of dopamine-producing cells
Table 2 Pharmacological functions of medicinal Rhodiola on various ailments.
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