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Inducing Apoptosis and Suppressing Inflammatory Reactions in Synovial Fibroblasts are Two Important Ways for Guizhi-Shaoyao-Zhimu Decoction Against Rheumatoid Arthritis

Authors Zhang Q, Duan HX, Li RL, Sun JY, Liu J, Peng W, Wu CJ, Gao YX

Received 16 October 2020

Accepted for publication 2 December 2020

Published 26 January 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 217—236

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JIR.S287242

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Ning Quan


Qing Zhang,1 Hu-Xinyue Duan,1 Ruo-Lan Li,1 Jia-Yi Sun,2 Jia Liu,1 Wei Peng,1 Chun-Jie Wu,1 Yong-Xiang Gao3

1School of Pharmacy, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu 611130, People’s Republic of China; 2Innovation Research Institute, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu 610075, People’s Republic of China; 3School of Basic Medicine, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu 610075, People’s Republic of China

Correspondence: Chun-Jie Wu
School of Pharmacy, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu 611137, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86-28-61801001
Email wucjcdtcm@163.com
Yong-Xiang Gao
School of Basic Medicine, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu 610075, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86-28-61801001
Email gaoyxcdtcm@126.com

Background and Objectives: Guizhi-Shaoyao-Zhimu decoction (GSZD) is often applied to control rheumatoid arthritis (RA), gout, osteoarthritis, etc. In this study, bioinformatic analysis and experimental verification were used to uncover the integral mechanism profile of GSZD against RA.
Materials and Methods: The chemical compositions of GSZD were identified by UPLC-QTOF-MS/MS. MH7A cell model was established to screen active compounds in GSZD, and potential targets of these compounds were predicted through online database retrieval. The differential expression genes (DEGs) in synovial tissue of RA patients and normal controls were retrieved from the GEO database. DEGs and the predicated compounds targets were overlapped, and the overlapped genes were subsequently enriched by GO and KEGG analysis. The pathways with significant enrichments were further experimentally verified.
Results: A total of 19 constituents were identified from GSZD, and 11 compounds showed obviously antiproliferative effects on MH7A cells with IC50 < 100 μg/mL. Bioinformatic analysis indicated that IL-1β, IL-6, MAPK8, JAK2, CXCL8, and CASP3 were the main targets of GSZD, and the integral pharmacological mechanisms profile of GSZD might be related to anti-inflammation and proapoptosis. GSZD can promote the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (MOMP) and induce apoptosis in MH7A cells. Furthermore, in vitro experiments showed GSZD can not only downregulate mRNA expressions of IL-1β (p< 0.05), IL-6 (p< 0.05), MMPs (p< 0.05) and CCL5 (p< 0.05) but also inhibit the nuclear transcription of NF-κB. GSZD also reduced the expressions of Bcl-2 (p< 0.05), JAK2 (p< 0.05), STAT-3 (p< 0.05), whereas increase Bax (p< 0.05), Caspase-3 (p< 0.05) and caspase-9 (p< 0.05).
Conclusion: Collectively, inducing synovial fibroblast apoptosis and inhibiting inflammatory response are two important ways for GSZD to RA, and our study proved bioinformatic analysis combined with experimental verification is a feasible method to explore the drug targets and mechanism of actions of TCMs.

Keywords: apoptosis, anti-inflammatory, bioinformatic analysis, rheumatoid arthritis, Guizhi-Shaoyao-Zhimu decoction

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