Background EGb761, a standardized Ginkgo biloba extract, has antioxidant and antiplatelet aggregation and thus might protect against atherosclerosis. However, molecular and functional properties of EGb761 and its major subcomponents have not been well characterized. We investigated the effect of EGb761 and its major subcomponents (bilobalide, kaemferol, and quercetin) on preventing atherosclerosis in vitro, and in a rat model of type 2 diabetes. Methods and Results EGb761 (100 and 200 mg/kg) or normal saline (control) were administered to Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty rats, an obese insulin-resistant rat model, for 6 weeks (from 3 weeks before to 3 weeks after carotid artery injury). Immunohistochemical staining was performed to investigate cell proliferation and apoptosis in the injured arteries. Cell migration, caspase-3 activity and DNA fragmentation, monocyte adhesion, and ICAM-1/VCAM-1 levels were explored in vitro. Treatment with EGb761 dose-dependently reduced intima-media ratio, proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and induced greater apoptosis than the controls. Proliferation and migration of VSMCs in vitro were also decreased by the treatment of EGb761. Glucose homeostasis and circulating adiponectin levels were improved, and plasma hsCRP concentrations were decreased in the treatment groups. Caspase-3 activity and DNA fragmentation increased while monocyte adhesion and ICAM-1/VCAM-1 levels decreased significantly. Among subcomponents of EGb761, kaemferol and quercetin reduced VSMC migration and increased caspase activity. Conclusions EGb761 has a protective role in the development of atherosclerosis and is a potential therapeutic agent for preventing atherosclerosis.
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