Long-term treatment with a Chinese herbal formula, Sheng-Mai-San, improves cardiac contractile function in aged rats: The role of Ca2+ homeostasis

Guang Qin Zhang, Hui Wang, Wen Tao Liu, Hang Dong, David W F Fong, Li Min Tang, Yun Hua Xiong, Zhiling Yu*, Kam Ming Ko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


A Chinese herbal formula Sheng-Mai-Yin (SMY), the liquid dosage form of Sheng-Mai-San, has been used clinically for treating heart failure, particularly in aged patients. To investigate the effect of SMY treatment on the contractile function of aged hearts, we first examined cardiac hemodynamics in aged rats. To define the mechanism involved in the enhancement of cardiac function, we investigated the effect of SMY treatment on Ca2+ homeostasis in ventricular cardiomyocytes isolated from aged rats. Ca2+ release was assessed by measurements of changes in cardiac Ca2+ transients and Ca2+ sparks, using laser scanning confocal microscopy. The functional status of Ca2+-release regulators, including L-type Ca2+ channels, sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+-adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase), and ryanodine receptors (RyRs), was also assessed. The results indicated that SMY treatment (2 g/kg per day for 30 doses within 6 weeks, intragastically) significantly improved hemodynamic parameters in aged rats. SMY treatment markedly increased the amplitude and shortened the duration of Ca2+ transients in aged cardiomyocytes, and reversed the age-related increase in frequency, decrease in amplitude, and changes in spatiotemporal properties of Ca2+ sparks in cardiomyocytes. In addition, SMY treatment increased the L-type Ca2+ current density, SR Ca 2+ content, and SR Ca2+-ATPase expression, and decreased the sensitivity of RyRs to Ca2+, all of which are causally related to increases in the amplitude of Ca2+ transients and the size of Ca2+ sparks. In conclusion, the improvement in cardiac contractile function afforded by SMY treatment in aged rats is likely mediated by an increase in Ca2+ release from the SR through L-type Ca2+ current-activated RyRs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-1000
Number of pages10
JournalRejuvenation Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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