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Zuota is regarded as the king of Tibetan medicine. However, due to the confidentiality of this precious medicine, the scientific characterization of Zuota is very scarce, which limits the pharmacology and biosafety studies of Zuota. Herein, we collected four different Zuota samples from Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan and characterized them by multiple techniques. Our results showed that Zuota was mainly an inorganic mixture of HgS, sulfur, and graphite. Morphologically, Zuota samples were composed of nanoparticles, which further aggregated into microsized particles. Chemically, the majorities of Zuota were S and Hg (in the forms of HgS and pure sulfur). All samples contained pure sulfur with orthorhombic crystalline. Zuota from Qinghai province had different HgS crystalline, namely, hexagonal crystalline. The others were all face-centered cubic crystalline. Carbon in Zuota NPs was in the form of graphite. The implication to future studies of Zuota was discussed.

Erigeron multiradiatus (Lindl.) Benth is a traditional Tibetan medicine herb long used to treat various diseases related to inflammation. Our previous phytochemical studies on E. multiradiatus resulted in the isolation of scutellarin, which is a known flavone glucuronide with comprehensive pharmacological actions. In present study, we investigated the inhibition action of scutellarin on high glucose-induced vascular inflammation in human endothelial cells (ECV304 cells). Consistent with previous reports, exposure of ECV304 cells to high glucose for 24 h caused an increase of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), and promoted cell adhesion between monocyte and ECV304 cells. However, pretreatment with scutellarin (0.1 and 1 microM) reversed these effects in a concentration-dependent manner. Scutellarin was able to inhibit the activation of NF-kappaB induced by high glucose in ECV304 cells. Furthermore, although oral administration of scutellarin (10 and 50 mg/kg) did not produce significant antihyperglycemic action, it lowered the serum MCP-1 levels significantly in alloxan-induced diabetic mice. Therefore, our results suggest that scutellarin has anti-inflammation effect that may afford some protection against hyperglycemia-induced vascular inflammatory both in vitro and in vivo.