Production of the secondary metabolites in Salvia miltiorrhiza in vitro cultures



Salvia miltiorrhiza (family: Lamiaceae) is well known as Danshen in traditional Chinese medicine. It is used mainly in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. A number of pharmacological studies have proved its wide spectrum of pharmacological activities: cardiovascular protective effect, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, antimicrobial and anticancer. The roots of S. miltiorrhiza contain two main groups of active compounds: phenolic constituents and abietane-type diterpenoids (tanshinones). The studies on S. miltiorrhiza in vitro cultures have been focused on secondary metabolites production for over two decades. Both cultures, undifferentiated and transformed, are able to synthesize the active compounds but their content is low. The elicitation treatment significantly enhances the metabolites content at a level close or much higher than in the intact plants. The induction effect depends on many factors: the kind and dose of the elicitor, the type of the culture and its susceptibility, time and ways of administration, the growth state of tissues etc. The yeast extract and some heavy metal ions effectively induce tanshinones biosynthesis such as cryptotanshinone, whereas methyl jasmonate stimulate mainly phenolic compounds – lithospermic acid B and demonstrated limited effect on diterpenoids accumulation. Nowadays, the much attention has been paid to the biosynthetic pathways and genes including expression profiling and cloning. The recognition of the genes pathways and the transcription factors (including the signal transduction steps level) will be helpful in better understanding of the regulatory mechanism and improvement of the production of the interesting secondary metabolites and eventually appliance in the industry.
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