The processed lateral root of Aconitum carmichaelii Deb
(Aconiti Radix lateralis praeparata or Fuzi) is a potent traditional herbal medicine extensively used in treatment of cardiovascular diseases, rheumatism arthritis, and bronchitis in many Asian countries. Although Fuzi has promising therapeutic effects, its toxicities are frequently observed. Three main C19
-diester-diterpenoid alkaloids (DDAs) are believed to be the principal toxins of the herb. Although toxicokinetic profiles of the toxic DDAs have already been examined in several studies, they have seldom been correlated with the toxicities of Fuzi. The current article aimed to investigate the relationship between the up-to-date toxicokinetic data of the toxic DDAs and the existing evidence of the toxic effects of Fuzi. Relationships between the cardiac toxicity and the plasma and heart concentration of DDAs in mice and rats were established. Based on our findings, clinical monitoring of the plasma concentrations of DDAs of Fuzi is recommended to prevent potential cardiac toxicities. Additionally, caution with respect to potential hepatic and renal toxicity induced by Fuzi should be exercised. In addition, further analyses focusing on the preclinical tissue distribution profile of DDAs and on the long-term toxicokinetic-toxicity correlation of DDAs are warranted for a better understanding of the toxic mechanisms and safer use of Fuzi.
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