Rhodiola: An Ordinary Plant or a Promising Future Therapy for Pulmonary Hypertension? A Brief Review

PVRI Member Authors: Djuro Kosanovic, Oleg Pak, Michael Seimetz, Norbert Weissmann, Ralph T. Schermuly


Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a chronic, complex, and progressive disease that eventuates in fatality. Research efforts over the past decades have resulted in therapeutic options that improve quality of life and prolong survival of patients, but they do not offer a cure. We propose a philosophical model that a disturbed balance of yin and yang results in pulmonary vascular remodeling, the hallmark of PH pathology. The model may be useful in exploring the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine and incorporating it into mainstream PH research. In this context, the medicinal plant Rhodiola can be of profound interest owing to its variety of health-friendly attributes. Rhodiola has been shown to be beneficial in high-altitude-related symptoms and acute exacerbation of PH; moreover, improvement of PH has been demonstrated experimentally in chronically hypoxic rats. The beneficial effects of Rhodiola in PH may be attributable to its potential targeting of the signaling pathways, such as endothelin-1, nitric oxide, vascular endothelial growth factor, angiotensin-converting enzyme, nuclear factor κ-B, tumor necrosis factor α, and interleukin-6. Alterations in these mediators are implicated in PH pathogenesis, the characteristics of which include chronic pulmonary vasoconstriction, vasoproliferation, and vascular inflammation. Salidroside, one of the compounds extracted from Rhodiola, has been found to provide therapeutic benefits in experimental PH. As the data are limited and the field is in its infancy, further studies including in-depth analysis of the therapeutic effects on various animal models of PH are desirable. We believe that future PH research should place an adequate and special emphasis on exploring and promoting the potential of traditional Chinese medicine, and to this end, the medicinal plant Rhodiola offers a promising field on which to embark.

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Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary Vascular Remodeling


Djuro Kosanovic, Xia Tian, Oleg Pak, Ying-Ju Lai, Yi-Ling Hsieh, Michael Seimetz, Norbert Weissmann, Ralph Theo Schermuly, Bhola Kumar Dahal

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Pulmonary Circulation Vol 3: No 3 cover image

September 2013

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 3: No 3

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