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Original Article

Korean J Physiol Pharmacol 2022; 26(5): 335-345

Published online September 1, 2022

Copyright © Korean J Physiol Pharmacol.

Tanshinone IIA reduces pyroptosis in rats with coronary microembolization by inhibiting the TLR4/MyD88/NF-κB/NLRP3 pathway

Hao-Liang Li, Tao-Li, Zhi-Qing Chen, and Lang Li*

Department of Cardiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi Medical University & Guangxi Key Laboratory Base of Precision Medicine in Cardio-Cerebrovascular Diseases Control and Prevention & Guangxi Clinical Research Center for Cardio-Cerebrovascular Diseases, Nanning 530021, People’s Republic of China

Correspondence to:Lang Li

Author contributions: H.L.L., T.L., and Z.Q.C. conducted the experiments and data analysis. L.L. and H.L.L. participated in the design, interpretation of the study, wrote and reviewed critical revision of the article. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Received: April 6, 2022; Revised: May 11, 2022; Accepted: May 14, 2022

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pyroptosis is an inflammatory form of programmed cell death that is linked with invading intracellular pathogens. Cardiac pyroptosis has a significant role in coronary microembolization (CME), thus causing myocardial injury. Tanshinone IIA (Tan IIA) has powerful cardioprotective effects. Hence, this study aimed to identify the effect of Tan IIA on CME and its underlying mechanism. Forty Sprague–Dawley (SD) rats were randomly grouped into sham, CME, CME + low-dose Tan IIA, and CME + high-dose Tan IIA groups. Except for the sham group, polyethylene microspheres (42 μm) were injected to establish the CME model. The Tan-L and Tan-H groups received intraperitoneal Tan IIA for 7 days before CME. After CME, cardiac function, myocardial histopathology, and serum myocardial injury markers were assessed. The expression of pyroptosis-associated molecules and TLR4/MyD88/NF-κB/NLRP3 cascade was evaluated by qRT-PCR, Western blotting, ELISA, and IHC. Relative to the sham group, CME group's cardiac functions were significantly reduced, with a high level of serum myocardial injury markers, and microinfarct area. Also, the levels of caspase-1 p20, GSDMD-N, IL-18, IL-1β, TLR4, MyD88, p-NF-κB p65, NLRP3, and ASC expression were increased. Relative to the CME group, the Tan-H and Tan-L groups had considerably improved cardiac functions, with a considerably low level of serum myocardial injury markers and microinfarct area. Tan IIA can reduce the levels of pyroptosis-associated mRNA and protein, which may be caused by inhibiting TLR4/MyD88/NF-κB/NLRP3 cascade. In conclusion, Tanshinone IIA can suppress cardiomyocyte pyroptosis probably through modulating the TLR4/MyD88/NF-κB/NLRP3 cascade, lowering cardiac dysfunction, and myocardial damage.

Keywords: Coronary microembolization, Pyroptosis, Tanshinone IIA, TLR4/MyD88/NF-κB/NLRP3 cascade