In the present study, we examined the effect of a two-herb traditional Chinese medicine (NF3), comprised of Astragali Radix and Radix Rehmanniae, on the healing of diabetic foot ulcer and the possible molecular mechanisms involved.Methods
This was a prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Sixteen diabetic patients were randomized to receive either placebo or NF3 for 6 months. Ulcer healing and sensory changes were examined. Molecular studies included measurement of serum tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and RNA microarray investigation.Results
The daily rate of reduction in ulcer area was 3.55% in the NF3 group and 1.52% in the placebo group (P = 0.062). In the index limb, the number of negative tests for sensory neuropathy using monofilament was reduced from 27% to 7% in the NF3 group and from 37% to 35% in the placebo group (P < 0.001). In addition, NF3 significantly decreased serum TNF-α levels (P = 0.034). Microarray studies revealed concerted changes following NF3 treatment in the expression of genes implicated in fibroblast regeneration, angiogenesis, and anti-inflammation.Conclusions
In this proof-of-concept study, 6-month treatment with NF3 was associated with improved wound healing and sensation accompanied by concerted changes in gene expression.