Angelica Sinensis promotes myotube hypertrophy through the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway

Abstract (provisional)


Angelica sinensis (AS), a folk medicine, has long been used in ergogenic aids for athletes, but there is little scientific evidence supporting its effects. We investigated whether AS induces hypertrophy in myotubes through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt (also termed PKB)/mammalian target of the rapamycin (mTOR) pathway.


An in vitro experiment investigating the induction of hypertrophy in myotubes was conducted. To investigate whether AS promoted the hypertrophy of myotubes, an established in vitro model of myotube hypertrophy with and without AS was used and examined using microscopic images. The role of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway in AS-induced myotube hypertrophy was evaluated. Two inhibitors, wortmannin (an inhibitor of PI3K) and rapamycin (an inhibitor of mTOR), were used.

Result: The results revealed that the myotube diameters in the AS-treated group were significantly larger than those in the untreated control group (P < 0.05). Wortmannin and rapamycin inhibited AS-induced hypertrophy. Furthermore, AS increased Akt and mTOR phosphorylation through the PI3K pathway and induced myotube hypertrophy.


The results confirmed that AS induces hypertrophy in myotubes through the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway.

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Alex’s notes: Angelica sinensis, more commonly known as “dong quai”, is an herb native to China that is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine to “nourish one’s vitality and enrich blood.” Despite the Chinese’s ancient wisdom and proven track record with these medicinal compounds, no study has actually shown if dong quai does “strengthen” via skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Until now that is.

This study was in vitro, meaning it was performed on cell cultures outside of a living organism. Regardless, treatment of the myotubes (muscle fibers) with dong quai increased their diameter by an average of 1.34-fold. Using pathway inhibitors, it was shown that hypertrophy was the result of an increased role of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. However, it should also be noted that for every 10-fold increase in concentration of dong quai, the viability of the cells decreased, giving rise to the notion that more isn’t better. How these results would transfer to us is completely unknown. Dong quai does induce hypertrophy significantly, but how much would you need to take? And would it even work in the same manner?


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