ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE Luhong formula (LHF)-a traditional Chinese medicine containing Cervus nippon Temminck, Carthamus tinctorius L., Cinnamomum cassia Presl, Codonopisis pilosula( Franch.) Nannf., Astragalus membranaceus ( Fisch.) Bge. var. mongholicus ( Bge.) Hsiao, Lepidium apetalum Willd-is used in the treatment of heart failure. AIM OF THE STUDY To investigate the antifibrotic efficacy of LHF in a myocardial infarction-induced rat model of heart failure and to determine its mechanism of action. MATERIAL AND METHODS Myocardial infarction was induced in rats by coronary artery ligation, and cardiac fibroblasts were isolated. Neonatal rat cardiomyocytes (NRCMs) were isolated from 2 to 3-day-old Sprague-Dawley male rats, and cardiomyocyte hypertrophy was induced by isoprenaline. Histological examination was carried out to estimate the degree of myocardial fibrosis. Expression of gp130/JAK2/STAT3 pathway proteins was measured by western blot. The mRNA levels of downstream genes of gp130/JAK2/STAT3 pathway (i.e., CTGF, TSP-1, and TIMP1) were determined by RT-PCR; while CTGF, TSP-1, and TIMP1 protein levels were measured by ELISA. To investigate paracrine effects, cell proliferation and collagen synthesis was measured after treating cardiac fibroblasts with the conditioned media from isoprenaline-treated NRCMs. RESULTS Histopathological changes showed that LHF inhibited myocardial fibrosis in heart failure rats. Treatment with LHF up-regulated gp130, JAK2, and STAT3 protein expression in heart tissue, and down-regulated CTGF, TSP-1, and TIMP1 gene expression. Isoprenaline-treated NRCMs displayed lower expression of the gp130, JAK2, and STAT3 pathway proteins and higher secretion of its downstream signaling molecules (CTGF, TSP-1, TIMP1). LHF inhibited cardiac fibroblast proliferation and collagen synthesis after treatment with the conditioned media from isoprenaline-treated NRCMs. CONCLUSION LHF treatment attenuates myocardial fibrosis in vivo. LHF inhibits cardiac fibroblasts proliferation and collagen synthesis in a paracrine manner by activating the gp130/JAK2/STAT3 pathway in cardiomyocytes, thereby inhibiting the secretion of downstream profibrogenic cytokines.