Baicalein, a flavonoid present in the root of Scutellaria baicalensis, is well known for its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and antioxidant effects. Here we show that baicalein also attenuates cardiac hypertrophy. Aortic banding (AB) was performed to induce cardiac hypertrophy secondary to pressure overload in mice. Mouse chow containing 0.05% baicalein (dose: 100 mg/kg/day baicalein) was begun 1 week prior to surgery and continued for 8 weeks after surgery. Our data demonstrated that baicalein prevented cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis induced by AB, as assessed by echocardiographic and hemodynamic parameters and by pathological and molecular analysis. The inhibitory action of baicalein on cardiac hypertrophy was mediated by effects on mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)-extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) signaling and GATA-4 activation. In vitro studies performed in rat cardiac H9c2 cells confirmed that baicalein attenuated cardiomyocyte hypertrophy induced by angiotensin II, which was associated with inhibiting MEK-ERK1/2 signaling. In conclusion, our results suggest that baicalein has protective potential for targeting cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis through suppression of MEK-ERK1/2 signaling. Baicalein warrants further research as a potential antihypertrophic agent that might be clinically useful to treat cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 1058–1065, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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