What if a well-known houseplant could reduce symptoms?

What if a well-known houseplant could reduce symptoms?
What if a well-known houseplant could reduce symptoms?

THE ESSENTIAL

  • The plant substance FR900359, called “FR” by scientists, comes from the plant Ardisia crenata, a well-known houseplant.
  • According to a recent study, the latter rapidly induces significant vascular relaxation in mice suffering from pulmonary arterial hypertension.
  • “FR-induced vasorelaxation was shown to be at least as potent as currently used triple therapy in alleviating symptoms.”

Blood pressure inside the lungs is usually much lower than in the rest of the body. When the blood vessels in the lungs constrict and the smooth muscle layer surrounding these vessels thickens, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) occurs. This condition puts constant pressure on the right side of the heart because it needs much more force to pump blood through the lungs. This manifests itself as irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, dizziness, and heart failure.

HTAP: strong vasorelaxation in the pulmonary arteries induced by the plant substance

This pulmonary vascular pathology is “potentially fatal with limited survival.” This is why researchers from the Ruhr University in Bochum (Germany) wanted to identify new treatment options for this serious condition. In a recent study, published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicinethey proposed to take an interest in “Pharmacological inhibition of Gq proteins as a novel concept to counteract pulmonary vasoconstriction and pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell proliferation/migration in PAH.” So, rather than targeting the transmitter of the signal that causes the pulmonary vessels to contract, they focused on a later stage of signal transmission.

Previous research has shown that the plant substance FR900359, called FR by scientists, from the Ardisia crenata plant, a well-known houseplant, has an effect on Gq proteins. The latter would simultaneously inhibit many factors leading to vasoconstriction of the lungs. Therefore, as part of their work, the team wanted to test it on isolated pulmonary vessels from mice. According to the results, this substance induced strong vasorelaxation in the large and small pulmonary arteries of the rodents. In detail, the thickness of the muscle layer around the pulmonary vessels decreased or did not even increase. Further tests carried out on tissues from pigs and human samples confirmed this effect.

FR900359, “a promising drug candidate”

“The vasorelaxation induced by FR was shown to be at least as potent as the currently used triple therapy in alleviating symptoms and improving the health status of animals. We also provide in vivo evidence that local pulmonary application of the active substance prevented the increase in right ventricular systolic pressure in healthy mice as well as in mice with pulmonary hypertension,” can be read in the study.

The authors observed only minor side effects, including a slight drop in blood pressure throughout the body. “In fact, it could be beneficial in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension. (…) FR900359 could therefore be a promising drug candidate for the treatment of the disease. However, it will certainly take many years of intensive research before it can be used in clinical practice,” concluded Alexander Seidinger, lead author of the work.

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