Danggui Buxue Tang (DBT), a herbal decoction composed of Radix Astragali (RA) and Radix Angelica sinensis (RAS), has been used for treating menopausal irregularity in women for more than 800 years in China. According to the old tradition, RAS had to be processed with yellow wine before DBT preparation, which markedly reduced the amount of ligustilide in RAS and DBT, as well as enhanced the bioactivities of DBT. Here, we hypothesized that ligustilide would be an ingredient that possessed suppressive effects on DBTs functions. In the presence of ligustilide, the amount of astragaloside IV, calycosin, formononetin, and total polysaccharides extracted from RA were decreased. An increase of ligustilide caused a decrease of DBTs osteogenic activity in stimulating proliferation and differentiation of cultured bone cells. In addition, in the presence of a high level of ligustilide, DBT caused a side effect inducing the proliferation of breast MCF-7 cells. The current results strongly suggest that ligustilide is a negative regulator that hinders DBT to achieve its biological efficacy, which supports the traditional practice of preparing DBT using the ethanol-treated RAS.
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