Research Highlight

Herb nanoparticles aid blood vessel formation

doi:10.1038/nindia.2014.161 Published online 26 November 2014

Using the leaf extract of a medicinal herb, researchers have synthesized gold nanoparticles that can help grow new blood vessels from existing ones1

These nanoparticles could potentially be used for treating cardiovascular diseases and wounds.When the process by which the body generates new blood vessels from existing ones goes awry, the body can no longer repair damaged blood vessels, delaying wound healing and recovery from cardiovascular diseases. Conventional treatment employs small signaling proteins that cause tissue damage, blood clots and even tumour growth.

With a view to devising an efficient way for making new blood vessels, the researchers synthesized gold nanoparticles by using the leaf extract of a medicinal herb (Hamelia patens). They then assessed the blood-vessel-forming ability of the nanoparticles by exposing them to endothelial cells isolated from human umbilical veins.

The scientists found that the nanoparticles aided the growth and migration of the endothelial cells ― a very encouraging finding as endothelial cell proliferation and migration are key steps for growing new blood vessels.The nanoparticles were found to be biocompatible when exposed to skin and ovarian cancer cells. Furthermore, they did not induce cancer cell growth.

The researchers also observed that the nanoparticles aided blood vessel growth in chick embryos, suggesting that they could be used for therapeutic purposes. They claim that the nanoparticles supported blood vessel growth by triggering controlled generation of reactive oxygen species. This in turn sets off a cascade signaling process, which causes new blood vessels to sprout from existing ones.

“In the future,” says Chitta Ranjan Patra, a senior author of the study, “these nanoparticles could be used for developing alternative therapies for treating cardiovascular diseases and wounds.”


1. Nethi, S. K. et al. Bioconjugated gold nanoparticles accelerate the growth of new blood vessels through redox signaling. Chem. Commun. 50, 14367–14370 (2014) doi: 10.1039/C4CC06996J