To study the effects of Astragalus polysaccharide (APS), the primary effective component of the Chinese herb medicine Astragalus membranaceus (frequently used for its anti-hepatic fibrosis effects), on nanoscale mechanical properties of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (SECs).
Using endothelial cell medium as the control, 5 experimental groups were established utilizing different concentrations of APS, i.e. 12.5, 25, 50, 100, and 200 μg/mL. By using atomic force microscopy along with a microcantilever modified with a silicon dioxide microsphere as powerful tools, the value of Young’s modulus in each group was calculated. SAS 9.1 software was applied to analyze the values of Young’s modulus at the pressed depth of 300 nm. Environmental scanning electron microscopy was performed to observe the surface microtopography of the SECs.
The value of Young’s modulus in each APS experimental group was significantly greater than that of the control group: as APS concentration increased, the value of Young’s modulus presented as an increasing trend. The difference between the low-concentration (12.5 and 25 μg/mL) and high-concentration (200 μg/mL) groups was statistically signifificant (P<0.05), but no significant differences were observed between moderateconcentration (50 and 100 μg/mL) groups versus low- or high-concentration groups (P>0.05). Surface topography demonstrated that APS was capable of increasing the total area of fenestrae.
The values of Young’s modulus increased along with increasing concentrations of APS, suggesting that the stiffness of SECs increases gradually as a function of APS concentration. The observed changes in SEC mechanical properties may provide a new avenue for mechanistic research of anti-hepatic fibrosis treatments in Chinese medicine.
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