Water extract of Er-xian decoction selectively exerts estrogenic activities and interacts with SERMs in estrogen-sensitive tissues

Ka Ying Wong, Liping Zhou, Wenxuan Yu, Christina Chui Wa Poon, Huihui Xiao, Chi On Chan, Daniel Kam Wah Mok, Man Sau Wong (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Ethnopharmacological relevance: The increasing use of “kidney”-nourishing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) like Er-xian decoction (EXD) for management of menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis has aroused concerns about their safety, and whether they interact with prescription drugs as both of them act via estrogen receptors (ERs) and regulate serum estradiol. Aim of the study: The present study aimed to evaluate whether EXD selectively exerted estrogenic activities and interacted with Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs). Materials and methods: In vivo, mature ovariectomized (OVX) rats were administrated with EXD or combined treatment of EXD and SERMs for 12 weeks. The tissue-selective effect of EXD and its interaction of SERMs were studied in four estrogen sensitive tissues, bone, brain, breast and uterus. In vitro, the interaction of extracts of EXD-treated serum and SERMs in four ER-positive cell lines. Results: In OVX rats, EXD selectively alleviated estrogen deficiency-induced changes in the bone and brain without inducing any estrogenic effects in the breast or uterus. Two-way ANOVA indicated the presence of interactions between EXD and SERMs in OVX rats but EXD did not significantly alter the tissue responses to SERMs in the bone, breast or brain. Indeed, the combined use of EXD and SERMs appeared to suppress the estrogenic effect of raloxifene and tamoxifen in the uterus. Extract of EXD-treated serum directly stimulated cell proliferation or differentiation in human osteosarcoma MG-63, neuroblastoma SHSY5Y, breast cancer MCF-7, and endometrial Ishikawa cells. Two-way ANOVA revealed that EXD-treated serum interacted with SERMs at various concentrations and altered the effects of tamoxifen in MG-63 and MCF-7 cells. Conclusions: EXD exerted estrogenic effects in a tissue-selective manner and interacted with SERMs. Combined treatment of EXD and SERMs did not hamper the beneficial effects of SERMs on the bone or brain but appeared to moderate the estrogenic effect of SERMs in the uterus.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114096
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2021


  • Drug-herb interaction
  • Er-xian decoction
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Postmenopausal osteoporosis
  • Selective estrogen receptor modulators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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