The extract from toxic Foxglove plant could protect against high blood pressure and heart failure and may help treat millions of people suffering hypertension. The herb Foxglove has been used since thirteen century to cleanse wounds and dried leaves of Foxglove were brewed by Native Americans to treat leg swelling caused by heart problems.
The active ingredient of Foxglove known as digoxin, could boost protective mechanism of the body against high blood pressure and heart failure, found researchers from the University of Michigan. One in three people in developed nations suffered hypertension, which is associated with obesity and may be prevented by reducing salt intake, by remaining active and keeping healthy weight.
Majority of existing treatments prevent excess hormone and stress signals which can escort to hypertension and heart failure. But latest research has revealed that human body has the ability to keep excess stimulation in check via generating family of inhibitors known as RGS proteins. Researchers were looking for the technique to re-purpose old drugs to tap into this defensive method.
This defensive mechanism is usually vanished in some of hypertension and heart failure patients. The researchers found the novel action of ingredient digoxin, when treating engineered human kidney cells with thousands of known drugs in a high-throughput screen at the U-M Centre for Chemical Genomics. Digoxin was then shown to have analogous actions in secluded mouse blood vessel cells.
Low dose digoxin, the active ingredient of digitalis or Foxglove, was able to increase RGS2 levels in the heart and kidney. This new action of digoxin could help explain the fact that low doses appear to improve the survival of heart failure patients, explained co-author Dr Rick Neubig.
Lead author Dr Benita Sjogren, stated they tested several thousand known drugs and bioactive molecules for a potential role in enhancing RGS2 and RGS4 expression and function and have identified a novel mechanism for digoxin. They found that Foxglove contained the active ingredient, digoxin, which is now a significant drug for treating patients with congestive heart failure.
The study findings were published in Molecular Pharmacology.