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1.  Extract of the Chinese herbal formula Huo Luo Xiao Ling Dan inhibited adjuvant arthritis in rats 
Journal of ethnopharmacology  2008;121(3):366.
Ethnopharmacological relevance
The herbal formula Huo Luo Xiao Ling Dan (HLXL) and its modifications have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for about one hundred years to alleviate pain and inflammation.
Aim
To investigate the effects of HLXL on complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA)-induced multiple-joint arthritis in rats.
Materials and Methods
Male Lewis rats, 190–210g, were immunized subcutaneously at the base of the tail with 200 µl of heat-killed M. tuberculosis in mineral oil (5 mg/ml). HLXL (2.30g/kg and 4.60g/kg) or vehicle control (n=8 per group) was administered orally (i.g.) once a day between days 16–25 post-CFA injection. The rats were observed for signs of arthritis with arthritic changes (erythema, edema, induration) being scored on a scale of 0 to 4 of increasing severity using a standard scoring system. The maximum arthritis score per rat was 16. A plethysmometer was used to measure edema volume in each paw. Adverse effects of HLXL were monitored by closely observing the animals for unusual behavioral changes. Levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β) in local tissue were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay on day 25 post-CFA.
Results
HLXL significantly decreased arthritis scores between days 23–25 in the 2.30g/kg group and 21–25 in the 4.60g/kg group (p<0.05). It reduced paw edema on days 22 and 24 in the 2.30g/kg group and on days 20, 22 and 24 in the 4.60g/kg group compared to control (p<0.05). Local tissue TNF-α and IL-1β levels on day 25 post-CFA injection were significantly (p<0.05) lower in rats treated with HLXL than in control rats. No observable adverse effects were found.
Conclusion
The data suggest that HLXL produces significant anti-arthritic effects that may be mediated by suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines, and it appears to be safe.
doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.11.018
PMCID: PMC2818782  PMID: 19100323
Arthritis; Chinese Herbs; IL-1β; TNF-α; Rats
2.  Chinese Herbal Formula Huo-Luo-Xiao-Ling Dan Protects against Bone Damage in Adjuvant Arthritis by Modulating the Mediators of Bone Remodeling 
Huo-luo-xiao-ling dan (HLXL) is an herbal mixture that has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other inflammatory disorders. Despite the availability of potent conventionally used drugs for RA, their limited efficacy in a proportion of patients coupled with their high cost and severe adverse effects has necessitated the search for novel therapeutics for this debilitating disease. Further, the control of both inflammation and bone damage is essential for effective management of arthritis. The aim of our study was to evaluate the efficacy of HLXL against arthritic bone damage in adjuvant arthritis (AA) model of RA. Our results show that HLXL treatment suppressed inflammatory arthritis and reduced bone and cartilage damage in the joints of arthritic Lewis rats. HLXL-induced protection against bone damage was mediated primarily via inhibition of mediators of osteoclastic bone remodeling (e.g., receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand; RANKL), skewing of RANKL/osteoprotegerin (OPG) ratio in favor of antiosteoclastic activity, reduction in the number of osteoclasts in the arthrodial joint's bone, and inhibition of cytokine production and MMP activity. Our results suggest that HLXL might offer a promising alternative/adjunct treatment for both inflammation and bone damage in RA.
doi:10.1155/2013/429606
PMCID: PMC3670518  PMID: 23762133
3.  Microarray Analysis Reveals the Molecular Basis of Antiarthritic Activity of Huo-Luo-Xiao-Ling Dan 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease of autoimmune origin. Huo-luo-xiao-ling dan (HLXL) is an herbal mixture that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine over several decades to treat chronic inflammatory diseases including RA. However, the mechanism of the anti-arthritic action of this herbal remedy is poorly understood at the molecular level. In this study, we determined by microarray analysis the effects of HLXL on the global gene expression profile of the draining lymph node cells (LNC) in the rat adjuvant arthritis (AA) model of human RA. In LNC restimulated in vitro with the disease-related antigen mycobacterial heat-shock protein 65 (Bhsp65), 84 differentially expressed genes (DEG) (64 upregulated and 20 downregulated) versus 120 DEG (94 upregulated and 26 downregulated) were identified in HLXL-treated versus vehicle (Water)-treated rats, respectively, and 62 DEG (45 upregulated and 17 downregulated) were shared between the two groups. The most affected pathways in response to HLXL treatment included immune response, inflammation, cellular proliferation and apoptosis, and metabolic processes, many of which are directly relevant to arthritis pathogenesis. These results would advance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the anti-arthritic activity of HLXL.
doi:10.1155/2013/524746
PMCID: PMC3745855  PMID: 23983789
4.  Suppression of Ongoing Experimental Arthritis by a Chinese Herbal Formula (Huo-Luo-Xiao-Ling Dan) Involves Changes in Antigen-Induced Immunological and Biochemical Mediators of Inflammation 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the major autoimmune diseases of global prevalence. The use of the anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of RA is associated with severe adverse reactions and toxicity. This limitation has necessitated the search for novel therapeutic products. We report here a traditional Chinese medicine-based herbal formula, Huo luo xiao ling dan (HLXL), which has potent antiarthritic activity as validated in the rat adjuvant-induced arthritis (AA) model. HLXL (2.3 g/Kg) was fed to Lewis (RT.11) rats daily by gavage beginning at the onset of arthritis and then continued through the observation period. HLXL inhibited the severity of ongoing AA. This suppression of arthritis was associated with significant alterations in the T cell proliferative and cytokine responses as well as the antibody response against the disease-related antigen, mycobacterial heat-shock protein 65 (Bhsp65). There was a reduction in the level of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-17 and IL-1β but enhancement of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 level. In addition, there was inhibition of both the anti-Bhsp65 antibody response and the serum level of nitric oxide. Thus, HLXL is a promising CAM modality for further testing in RA patients.
doi:10.1155/2011/642027
PMCID: PMC2958519  PMID: 20981317
5.  Cinnamomum cassia Bark in Two Herbal Formulas Increases Life Span in Caenorhabditis elegans via Insulin Signaling and Stress Response Pathways 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9339.
Background
Proving the efficacy and corresponding mode of action of herbal supplements is a difficult challenge for evidence-based herbal therapy. A major hurdle is the complexity of herbal preparations, many of which combine multiple herbs, particularly when the combination is assumed to be vitally important to the effectiveness of the herbal therapy. This issue may be addressed through the use of contemporary methodology and validated animal models.
Methods and Principal Findings
In this study, two commonly used traditional herbal formulas, Shi Quan Da Bu Tang (SQDB) and Huo Luo Xiao Ling Dan (HLXL) were evaluated using a survival assay and oxidative stress biomarkers in a well-established C. elegans model of aging. HLXL is an eleven herb formula modified from a top-selling traditional herbal formula for the treatment of arthritic joint pain. SQDB consists of ten herbs often used for fatigue and energy, particularly in the aged. We demonstrate here that SQDB significantly extend life span in a C. elegans model of aging. Among all individual herbs tested, two herbs Cinnamomum cassia bark (Chinese pharmaceutical name: Cinnamomi Cortex, CIN) and Panax ginseng root (Chinese pharmaceutical name: Ginseng Radix, GS) significantly extended life span in C. elegans. CIN in both SQDB and HLXL formula extended life span via modulation of multiple longevity assurance genes, including genes involved in insulin signaling and stress response pathways. All the life-span-extending herbs (SQDB, CIN and GS) also attenuated levels of H2O2 and enhanced small heat shock protein expression. Furthermore, the life span-extending herbs significantly delayed human amyloid beta (Aβ)-induced toxicity in transgenic C. elegans expressing human Aβ.
Conclusion/Significance
These results validate an invertebrate model for rapid, systematic evaluation of commonly used Chinese herbal formulations and may provide insight for designing future evidence-based herbal therapy(s).
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009339
PMCID: PMC2825258  PMID: 20179756
6.  Huo-Luo-Xiao-Ling Dan modulates antigen-directed immune response in adjuvant-induced inflammation 
Journal of ethnopharmacology  2009;123(1):40-44.
Ethnopharmacological relevance
HLXL is a traditional Chinese medicine that has long been used in folk medicine for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. However, the precise immunological mechanisms by which HLXL mediates its anti-inflammatory activity are not fully defined.
Aim of the study
To determine the effects of HLXL on antigen-specific immune parameters in adjuvant-induced inflammation model in the Lewis rat.
Materials and Methods
Rats were fed daily with either HLXL (2.3 g/kg) or vehicle (water) beginning 3 d before subcutaneous injection of heat-killed M. tuberculosis H37Ra (Mtb), and then continued for another 6 d. After 9 d of Mtb injection, the draining lymph node cells were tested for T cell proliferative and cytokine responses against mycobacterial heat-shock protein 65 (Bhsp65). Moreover, sera were tested for anti-Bhsp65 antibodies and nitric oxide (NO).
Results
HLXL-treated rats showed reduced T cell proliferative response to Bhsp65 compared to control rats. Furthermore, HLXL suppressed IL-17 response but enhanced IL-10 response without much effect on IFN-γ. HLXL treatment also reduced the levels of anti-Bhsp65 antibodies but not that of NO.
Conclusions
HLXL feeding modulated both the cellular and the humoral immune response to Bhsp65 favoring an anti-inflammatory milieu for suppression of adjuvant-induced inflammation.
doi:10.1016/j.jep.2009.02.032
PMCID: PMC2925191  PMID: 19429337
Huo-Luo-Xiao-Ling Dan; Immune modulation; Cytokines; Antibodies; T cells; Inflammation
7.  Suppression of autoimmune arthritis by Celastrus-derived Celastrol through modulation of pro-inflammatory chemokines 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2012;20(17):5229-5234.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the synovial joints, deformities, and disability. The prolonged use of conventional anti-inflammatory drugs is associated with severe adverse effects. Therefore, there is an urgent need for safer and less expensive therapeutic products. Celastrol is a bioactive component of Celastrus, a traditional Chinese medicine, and it possesses anti-arthritic activity. However, the mechanism of action of Celastrol remains to be fully defined. In this study based on the rat adjuvant-induced arthritis (AA) model of RA, we examined the effect of Celastrol on two of the key mediators of arthritic inflammation, namely chemokines and their receptors, and related pro-inflammatory cytokines. We treated arthritic Lewis rats with Celastrol (200 μg/rat) or its vehicle by daily intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection beginning at the onset of AA. At the peak phase of AA, the sera, the draining lymph node cells, spleen adherent cells, and synovial-infiltrating cells of these rats were harvested and tested. Celastrol-treated rats showed a significant reduction in the levels of chemokines (RANTES, MCP-1, MIP-1α, and GRO/KC) as well as cytokines (TNF-α and IL-1β) that induce them, compared to the vehicle-treated rats. However, Celastrol did not have much effect on cellular expression of chemokine receptors except for an increase in CCR1. Further, Celastrol inhibited the migration of spleen adherent cells in vitro. Thus, Celastrol-induced suppression of various chemokines that mediate cellular infiltration into the joints might contribute to its anti-arthritic activity. Our results suggest that Celastrol might offer a promising alternative/adjunct treatment for RA
doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2012.06.050
PMCID: PMC3449088  PMID: 22854193
Inflammation; arthritis; chemokines; cytokines; traditional Chinese medicine; natural plant products; animal model
8.  Preclinical safety evaluation of the aqueous acetone extract of Chinese herbal formula Modified Huo Luo Xiao Ling Dan 
Objective
To investigate the safety of oral administration of Modified Huo Luo Xiao Ling Dan (HLXLD), a compound traditional Chinese herbal medicine.
Methods
The toxicological information of HLXLD and its individual constituent herbs was searched in cintcm or TCMlars (www.cintcm.com), PubMed (MEDLINE), Chinese Herbal Medicine (1999) and WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants (Vol. I—III). Single-dose acute toxicity was assessed by using the highest possible dosage. Motor function test was used to determine whether the herbal formula might cause motor impairment. Nine-day HLXLD repeat-dose sub-chronic toxicity/adverse effects, and 42-day chronic toxicity/adverse effects in rats were also assessed.
Results
The literature searches showed that HLXLD and its eleven ingredient herbs had no side/adverse effects listed in the traditional Chinese medicine literature. Under the dosages proposed in the formula, the HLXLD formula had no side/adverse effects according to MEDLINE, Chinese Herbal Medicine and WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants. The studies in rats showed: (1) in single-dose acute toxicity assessment, the maximal feasible single oral dose, 9.20 g/kg HLXLD, showed no significant effect on clinical signs, or body weight and mortality over a 14-day period in rats; (2) during motor function test, nine-day repeat-dose of daily HLXLD treatment at 4.60 g/kg did not cause motor impairment; (3) in nine-day HLXLD repeat-dose sub-chronic toxicity/adverse effects assessment, there were no noticeable abnormal behavioral changes or obvious adverse reactions and signs in complete Freund's adjuvant inflamed rats (highest observed dosage: 4.60 g/kg), and no noticeable adverse effects were observed during, or 14 days after nine-day treatment at 4.60 g/kg in non-inflamed rats; (4) during 42-day chronic toxicity/adverse effects assessments, no noticeable abnormal behavioral changes, no obvious adverse reactions and signs were observed in normal rats administered with HLXLD at a dose of 2.30 g/kg and the values of serum biochemistry and histopathology were in normal range.
Conclusion
Both existing information and animal data support that Modified HLXLD is a safe herbal product for clinical application.
PMCID: PMC3739922  PMID: 20456842
Chinese herb formula; Modified Huo Luo Xiao Ling Dan; Safety; Literature investigation; Acute toxicity tests; Motor function; Sub-acute toxicity; Chronic toxicity tests; Rats
9.  Regulation of Peripheral Inflammation by Spinal p38 MAP Kinase in Rats 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(9):e338.
Background
Somatic afferent input to the spinal cord from a peripheral inflammatory site can modulate the peripheral response. However, the intracellular signaling mechanisms in the spinal cord that regulate this linkage have not been defined. Previous studies suggest spinal cord p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase and cytokines participate in nociceptive behavior. We therefore determined whether these pathways also regulate peripheral inflammation in rat adjuvant arthritis, which is a model of rheumatoid arthritis.
Methods and Findings
Selective blockade of spinal cord p38 MAP kinase by administering the p38 inhibitor SB203580 via intrathecal (IT) catheters in rats with adjuvant arthritis markedly suppressed paw swelling, inhibited synovial inflammation, and decreased radiographic evidence of joint destruction. The same dose of SB203580 delivered systemically had no effect, indicating that the effect was mediated by local concentrations in the neural compartment. Evaluation of articular gene expression by quantitative real-time PCR showed that spinal p38 inhibition markedly decreased synovial interleukin-1 and −6 and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP3) gene expression. Activation of p38 required tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) in the nervous system because IT etanercept (a TNF inhibitor) given during adjuvant arthritis blocked spinal p38 phosphorylation and reduced clinical signs of adjuvant arthritis.
Conclusions
These data suggest that peripheral inflammation is sensed by the central nervous system (CNS), which subsequently activates stress-induced kinases in the spinal cord via a TNFα-dependent mechanism. Intracellular p38 MAP kinase signaling processes this information and profoundly modulates somatic inflammatory responses. Characterization of this mechanism could have clinical and basic research implications by supporting development of new treatments for arthritis and clarifying how the CNS regulates peripheral immune responses.
Inhibition of p38 MAP kinase in the CNS reduces peripheral inflammation and joint destruction in arthritic rats.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease marked by chronic inflammation, leading to joint pain and destruction. Pain and inflammation in the joints as well as other locations in the body (i.e., the “periphery”) are constantly monitored by the central nervous system (i.e., the brain and spinal cord). Scientists have long suspected that the central nervous system (CNS) can regulate inflammation and immune responses, but little is known about how the CNS does this. One potential player is a protein called p38 that is involved in a number of cellular processes critical to the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Several substances that block the action of p38 are effective in animal models of arthritis and are currently being tested in clinical trials in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Originally, p38 was considered as a drug target that should mainly be blocked in the joints. But recent work has shown that pain in the periphery can lead to activation of p38 in the spinal cord, and that blocking p38 in the spinal cord might reduce peripheral pain.
Why Was This Study Done?
Based on the observation that p38 is activated in the CNS in response to peripheral pain, the researchers who did this study wondered whether it might be involved in the interaction between inflammation in the joints and the CNS.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They induced inflammation in the joints of rats and then looked for responses in the spinal cord. They found that p38 was indeed activated in the spinal cord of these rats. This activation depended on another protein, called TNFα, which is another major regulator of inflammation. The scientists then blocked either p38 or the TNFα with drugs directly delivered to the spinal cord of the arthritic rats, they could substantially reduce inflammation, arthritis, and destruction of the joints, compared with rats that had undergone the same treatment but received no active drug. Treatment of arthritic rats with the same amount of drugs given directly under the skin (this is called “systemic treatment”) did not have any effect on the joints.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Blocking p38 and TNFα by giving drugs systemically is known to have beneficial effects in animal models and human patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, the drugs tested in patients to date also have side effects. Given that much lower doses were needed to achieve beneficial effects in the rats when the drugs were administered directly into the spinal cord, it is possible that spinal cord administration might reduce the side effects (and possibly the costs) of the drugs without compromising the benefits to the patients. If future studies confirm that the action of these drugs on the CNS is essential to achieve a response even when administered as a systemic treatment, designing drugs that get into the CNS easier might improve the effectiveness and/or make it possible to use lower doses systemically.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030338.
MedlinePlus entry on rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis pages from the US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Rheumatoid Arthritis fact sheet from the American College of Rheumatology Description
Wikipedia entry on rheumatoid arthritis (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030338
PMCID: PMC1560929  PMID: 16953659
10.  Microarray-based gene expression profiling reveals the mediators and pathways involved in the anti-arthritic activity of Celastrus-derived Celastrol 
International Immunopharmacology  2012;13(4):499-506.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the joints. The prolonged use of anti-inflammatory drugs and other newer drugs is associated with severe adverse reactions. Therefore, there is a need for newer anti-arthritic agents. Celastrol, a bioactive component of the Chinese herb Celastrus, possesses anti-arthritic activity as tested in the adjuvant arthritis (AA) model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the mechanism of action of Celastrol has not been fully defined. We reasoned that microarray analysis of the lymphoid cells of Celastrol-treated arthritic animals might provide vital clues in this regard. We isolated total RNA of the draining lymph node cells (LNC) of Celastrol-treated (Tc) and vehicle-treated (Tp) arthritic Lewis rats, restimulated them in vitro with the disease-related antigen, mycobacterial heat-shock protein 65 (Bhsp65), and tested it using microarray gene chips. Also tested were control arthritic rats just before any treatment (T0). Seventy six genes involved in various biological functions were differentially regulated by Bhsp65 in LNC of Tp group, and 19 genes among them were shared by the Tc group. Furthermore, a group of 14 genes was unique to Tc, indicating that Celastrol modulated not only arthritis-related genes but also those involved in other defined pathways. When Tc and Tp were compared, many of the Bhsp65-induced genes were related to the immune cells, cellular proliferation and inflammatory responses. Our results revealed 10 differentially expressed genes and 14 pathways that constituted the “Celastrol Signature”. Our results would help identify novel targets for therapeutic purposes.
doi:10.1016/j.intimp.2012.05.015
PMCID: PMC3389174  PMID: 22664142
Arthritis; Celastrus; Celastrol; Inflammation; Gene expression; Microarray
11.  The effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on matrix metalloproteinase and prostaglandin E2 production by cells of the rheumatoid lesion 
Arthritis Research  1999;1(1):63-70.
The biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3], acts through vitamin D receptors, which were found in rheumatoid tissues in the present study. IL-1β-activated rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocytes were shown to respond differently to exposure to 1α,25(OH)2D3, which has different effects on the regulatory pathways of specific matrix metalloproteinases and prostaglandin E2.
Introduction:
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3], the biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3, acts through an intracellular vitamin D receptor (VDR) and has several immunostimulatory effects. Animal studies have shown that production of some matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) may be upregulated in rat chondrocytes by administration of 1α,25(OH)2D3; and cell cultures have suggested that 1α,25(OH)2D3 may affect chondrocytic function. Discoordinate regulation by vitamin D of MMP-1 and MMP-9 in human mononuclear phagocytes has also been reported. These data suggest that vitamin D may regulate MMP expression in tissues where VDRs are expressed. Production of 1α,25(OH)2D3 within synovial fluids of arthritic joints has been shown and VDRs have been found in rheumatoid synovial tissues and at sites of cartilage erosion. The physiological function of 1α,25(OH)2D3 at these sites remains obscure. MMPs play a major role in cartilage breakdown in the rheumatoid joint and are produced locally by several cell types under strict control by regulatory factors. As 1α,25(OH)2D3 modulates the production of specific MMPs and is produced within the rheumatoid joint, the present study investigates its effects on MMP and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production in two cell types known to express chondrolytic enzymes.
Aims:
To investigate VDR expression in rheumatoid tissues and to examine the effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on cultured rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts (RSFs) and human articular chondrocytes (HACs) with respect to MMP and PGE2 production.
Methods:
Rheumatoid synovial tissues were obtained from arthroplasty procedures on patients with late-stage rheumatoid arthritis; normal articular cartilage was obtained from lower limb amputations. Samples were embedded in paraffin, and examined for presence of VDRs by immunolocalisation using a biotinylated antibody and alkaline-phosphatase-conjugated avidin-biotin complex system. Cultured synovial fibroblasts and chondrocytes were treated with either 1α,25(OH)2D3, or interleukin (IL)-1β or both. Conditioned medium was assayed for MMP and PGE2 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and the results were normalised relative to control values.
Results:
The rheumatoid synovial tissue specimens (n = 18) immunostained for VDRs showed positive staining but at variable distributions and in no observable pattern. VDR-positive cells were also observed in association with some cartilage-pannus junctions (the rheumatoid lesion). MMP production by RSFs in monolayer culture was not affected by treatment with 1α,25(OH)2D3 alone, but when added simultaneously with IL-1β the stimulation by IL-1β was reduced from expected levels by up to 50%. In contrast, 1α,25(OH)2D3 had a slight stimulatory effect on basal production of MMPs 1 and 3 by monolayer cultures of HACs, but stimulation of MMP-1 by IL-1β was not affected by the simultaneous addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3 whilst MMP-3 production was enhanced (Table 1). The production of PGE2 by RSFs was unaffected by 1α,25(OH)2D3 addition, but when added concomitantly with IL-1β the expected IL-1 β-stimulated increase was reduced to almost basal levels. In contrast, IL-1β stimulation of PGE2 in HACs was not affected by the simultaneous addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3 (Table 2). Pretreatment of RSFs with 1α,25(OH)2D3 for 1 h made no significant difference to IL-1β-induced stimulation of PGE2, but incubation for 16 h suppressed the expected increase in PGE2 to control values. This effect was also noted when 1α,25(OH)2D3 was removed after the 16h and the IL-1 added alone. Thus it appears that 1α,25(OH)2D3 does not interfere with the IL-1β receptor, but reduces the capacity of RSFs to elaborate PGE2 after IL-1β induction.
Discussion:
Cells within the rheumatoid lesion which expressed VDR were fibroblasts, macrophages, lymphocytes and endothelial cells. These cells are thought to be involved in the degradative processes associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), thus providing evidence of a functional role of 1α,25(OH)2D3 in RA. MMPs may play important roles in the chondrolytic processes of the rheumatoid lesion and are known to be produced by both fibroblasts and chondrocytes. The 1α,25(OH)2D3 had little effect on basal MMP production by RSFs, although more pronounced differences were noted when IL-1β-stimulated cells were treated with 1α,25(OH)2D3, with the RSF and HAC showing quite disparate responses. These opposite effects may be relevant to the processes of joint destruction, especially cartilage loss, as the ability of 1α,25(OH)2D3 to potentiate MMP-1 and MMP-3 expression by 'activated' chondrocytes might facilitate intrinsic cartilage chondrolysis in vivo. By contrast, the MMP-suppressive effects observed for 1α,25(OH)2D3 treatment of 'activated' synovial fibroblasts might reduce extrinsic chondrolysis and also matrix degradation within the synovial tissue. Prostaglandins have a role in the immune response and inflammatory processes associated with RA. The 1α,25(OH)2D3 had little effect on basal PGE2 production by RSF, but the enhanced PGE2 production observed following IL-1β stimulation of these cells was markedly suppressed by the concomitant addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3. As with MMP production, there are disparate effects of 1α,25(OH)2D3 on IL-1β stimulated PGE2 production by the two cell types; 1α,25(OH)2D3 added concomitantly with IL-1β had no effect on PGE2 production by HACs. In summary, the presence of VDRs in the rheumatoid lesion demonstrates that 1α,25(OH)2D3 may have a functional role in the joint disease process. 1α,25(OH)2D3 does not appear to directly affect MMP or PGE2 production but does modulate cytokine-induced production.
Comparative effects of 1 α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1 α,25D3) on interleukin (IL)-1-stimulated matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and MMP-3 production by rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocytes in vivo
Data given are normalized relative to control values and are expressed ± SEM for three cultures of each cell type.
Comparative effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1α,25D3) on Interleukin (IL)-1-stimulated prostaglandin E2 production by rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocyte in vivo
Data given are normalized relative to control values and are expressed ± SEM for three cultures of each cell type.
PMCID: PMC17774  PMID: 11056661
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3; matrix metalloproteinase; prostaglandin E2; rheumatoid arthritis
12.  Topical dermal application of essential oils attenuates the severity of adjuvant arthritis in Lewis rats 
Phytotherapy Research  2011;26(1):54-59.
This study was aimed at examining the effect of an ointment containing essential oils (EO) on the severity of adjuvant arthritis (AA), an experimental model of human rheumatoid arthritis (RA), in Lewis rats and to define the underlying mechanisms. At the onset of AA, rats received topical application twice daily of ointment containing 20% EO or placebo ointment. The synovial fluid (SF) and synovium-infiltrating cells (SIC) of rats were tested for pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-1β. The hind paws and skin were examined histologically. The activity/level of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and anti-mycobacterial heat-shock protein 65 (Bhsp65) antibodies was tested. Arthritic rats treated with ointment containing EO developed less severe clinical arthritis compared to the controls, and this activity was attributable to EO and not the carrier oil. The levels of TNF-α and IL-1β, and the activity of MMPs in SF and SIC-lysate were significantly (p<0.05) reduced in EO-treated arthritic rats compared to the controls. However, the levels of anti-Bhsp65 antibodies were unaffected by treatment. Thus, topical dermal delivery of EO-containing ointment downmodulates the severity of AA in Lewis rats by inhibiting defined mediators of inflammation. Such ointments should be tested in patients with RA and other arthritic conditions.
doi:10.1002/ptr.3509
PMCID: PMC3168704  PMID: 21544881
Essential oils; Arthritis; Cytokines; Topical application; MMPs; Inflammation
13.  Anti-Inflammatory Activity and Mechanism of a Lipid Extract from Hard-Shelled Mussel (Mytilus Coruscus) on Chronic Arthritis in Rats 
Marine Drugs  2014;12(2):568-588.
The present study was designed to investigate the anti-inflammatory activity and mechanism of a lipid extract from hard-shelled mussel (Mytilus coruscus) on adjuvant-induced (AIA) and collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in rats. AIA and CIA rats that received hard-shelled mussel lipid extract (HMLE group) at a dose of 100 mg/kg demonstrated significantly lower paw swelling and arthritic index, but higher body weight gain than those which received olive oil (control group). Similar results were found in arthritic rats that received New Zealand green-lipped mussel lipid extract (GMLE) at the same dosage. The levels of leukotriene B4 (LTB4), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), thromboxane B2 (TXB2) in the serum, and interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-6, interferon-γ (INF-γ), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) in the ankle joint synovial fluids of HMLE group rats were significantly lower than those of control group. However, the levels of IL-4 and IL-10 in HMLE group rats were significantly higher than those in the control group. Decreased mRNA expressions of matrix metalloproteinase 1 (MMP1) and MMP13, but increased tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP1) were observed in the knee joint synovium tissues of HMLE group rats when compared with the control group. No hepatotoxicity was observed in both HMLE and GMLE group rats. The present results indicated that HMLE had a similarly strong anti-inflammatory activity as GMLE. Such a strong efficacy could result from the suppression of inflammatory mediators (LTB4, PGE2, TXB2), pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, INF-γ, TNF-α) and MMPs (MMP1, MMP13), and the promotion of anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-4, IL-10) and TIMPs (TIMP1) productions.
doi:10.3390/md12020568
PMCID: PMC3944504  PMID: 24473164
hard-shelled mussel lipid extract; New Zealand green-lipped mussel lipid extract; anti-inflammatory activity and mechanism; adjuvant-induced arthritis; collagen-induced arthritis
14.  Discovery of cyclooxygenase inhibitors from medicinal plants used to treat inflammation 
Eleven authenticated botanicals used in the traditional Chinese medicine Huo-Luo-Xiao-Ling Dan were screened for ligands to cyclooxygenase (COX) using pulsed ultrafiltration liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, and a mass spectrometry-based enzyme assay was used to determine the concentration of each of 17 ligands that inhibited COX-1 or COX-2 by 50% (IC50). Acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic -boswellic acid, acid, acetyl-α-boswellic acid, acetyl-β-boswellic acid, and betulinic acid were COX-1 selective inhibitors with IC50 values of approximately 10 μM. Senkyunolide O and cryptotanshinone were COX-2 selective inhibitors with IC50 values of 5 and 22 μM, respectively. Roburic acid and phenethyl-trans-ferulate inhibited COX-1 and COX-2 equally. COX inhibition and the IC50 values of most of these natural product ligands have not been reported previously.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2010.02.007
PMCID: PMC2860736  PMID: 20188172
Cyclooxygenase; COX-2; drug discovery; botanical dietary supplements; senkyunolide O; cryptotanshinone
15.  Fenofibrate administration to arthritic rats increases adiponectin and leptin and prevents oxidative muscle wasting 
Endocrine Connections  2012;1(1):1-12.
Chronic inflammation induces skeletal muscle wasting and cachexia. In arthritic rats, fenofibrate, a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα (PPARA)) agonist, reduces wasting of gastrocnemius, a predominantly glycolytic muscle, by decreasing atrogenes and myostatin. Considering that fenofibrate increases fatty acid oxidation, the aim of this study was to elucidate whether fenofibrate is able to prevent the effect of arthritis on serum adipokines and on soleus, a type I muscle in which oxidative metabolism is the dominant source of energy. Arthritis was induced by injection of Freund's adjuvant. Four days after the injection, control and arthritic rats were gavaged daily with fenofibrate (300 mg/kg bw) or vehicle over 12 days. Arthritis decreased serum leptin, adiponectin, and insulin (P<0.01) but not resistin levels. In arthritic rats, fenofibrate administration increased serum concentrations of leptin and adiponectin. Arthritis decreased soleus weight, cross-sectional area, fiber size, and its Ppar α mRNA expression. In arthritic rats, fenofibrate increased soleus weight, fiber size, and Ppar α expression and prevented the increase in Murf1 mRNA. Fenofibrate decreased myostatin, whereas it increased MyoD (Myod1) and myogenin expressions in the soleus of control and arthritic rats. These data suggest that in oxidative muscle, fenofibrate treatment is able to prevent arthritis-induced muscle wasting by decreasing Murf1 and myostatin expression and also by increasing the myogenic regulatory factors, MyoD and myogenin. Taking into account the beneficial action of adiponectin on muscle wasting and the correlation between adiponectin and soleus mass, part of the anticachectic action of fenofibrate may be mediated through stimulation of adiponectin secretion.
doi:10.1530/EC-12-0003
PMCID: PMC3681315  PMID: 23781298
adjuvant-induced arthritis; oxidative muscle; adiponectin; leptin; PPAR alpha; fenofibrate; MyoD; myogenin; myostatin; Murf1; Insulin
16.  Development of a macromolecular prodrug for the treatment of inflammatory arthritis: mechanisms involved in arthrotropism and sustained therapeutic efficacy 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(5):R170.
Introduction
The purpose of the present manuscript is to test the hypothesis that arthrotropic localization and synovial cell internalization account for the unique capacity of N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide (HPMA) copolymer-dexamethasone conjugate (P-Dex, a macromolecular prodrug of dexamethasone) to induce sustained amelioration of joint inflammation and inhibition of tissue damage in an animal model of inflammatory arthritis.
Methods
Rats with adjuvant-induced arthritis (AA) were treated with P-Dex, free dexamethasone, saline or HPMA homopolymer. To define the biodistribution of P-Dex, conjugates with different imaging labels were given to AA rats and analyzed. Isolated joint tissues were evaluated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and immunohistochemical staining. Cellular uptake of P-Dex and its effects on apoptosis and production of proinflammatory cytokines were examined using human monocyte-macrophages and fibroblasts.
Results
A single systemic administration of P-Dex completely suppressed AA for >20 days. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated higher HPMA copolymer influx into the inflamed joints than the normal joints. Immunohistochemistry and FACS analyses of arthritic joints revealed extensive uptake of the polymer conjugate by synovial fibroblasts and myeloid lineage cells. The capacity of P-Dex to suppress inflammation was confirmed in monocyte-macrophage cultures in which P-Dex treatment resulted in suppression of lipopolysaccharide-induced IL-6 and TNFα release. Similarly, TNFα-induced expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP1 and MMP3) in synovial fibroblasts from a rheumatoid arthritis patient was suppressed by P-Dex. P-Dex showed no detectable effect on monocyte apoptosis.
Conclusions
P-Dex provides superior and sustained amelioration of AA compared with an equivalent dose of free dexamethasone. The arthrotropism and local retention of P-Dex is attributed to the enhanced vascular permeability in arthritic joints and the internalization of P-Dex by synovial cells. The uptake and processing of P-Dex by macrophages and fibroblasts, and downregulation of proinflammatory mediators, provides an explanation for the sustained anti-inflammatory efficacy of P-Dex in this model of inflammatory arthritis.
doi:10.1186/ar3130
PMCID: PMC2990997  PMID: 20836843
17.  Amelioration of Rat Adjuvant-Induced Arthritis by Met-RANTES 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2005;52(6):1907-1919.
Objective
CC chemokines and their receptors play a fundamental role in trafficking and activation of leukocytes at sites of inflammation, contributing to joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis. Met-RANTES, an amino-terminal–modified methionylated form of RANTES (CCL5), antagonizes the binding of the chemokines RANTES and macrophage inflammatory protein 1α (MIP-1α; CCL3) to their receptors CCR1 and CCR5, respectively. The aim of this study was to investigate whether Met-RANTES could ameliorate adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA) in the rat.
Methods
Using immunohistochemistry, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction, Western blot analysis, adoptive transfer, and chemotaxis, we defined joint inflammation, bony destruction, neutrophil and macrophage migration, Met-RANTES binding affinity to rat receptors, proinflammatory cytokine and bone marker levels, CCR1 and CCR5 expression and activation, and macrophage homing into joints with AIA.
Results
Administration of Met-RANTES as a preventative reduced the severity of joint inflammation. Administration of Met-RANTES to ankles with AIA showed decreases in inflammation, radiographic soft tissue swelling, and bone erosion. Met-RANTES significantly reduced the number of neutrophils and macrophages at the peak of arthritis compared with saline-injected controls. Competitive chemotaxis in peripheral blood mononuclear cells demonstrated that Met-RANTES inhibited MIP-1α and MIP-1β at 50% inhibition concentrations of 5 nM and 2 nM, respectively. Furthermore, levels of tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin-1β, macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and RANKL were decreased in joints with AIA in the Met-RANTES group compared with the control group. Interestingly, the expression and activation of CCR1 and CCR5 in the joint were down-regulated in the Met-RANTES group compared with the control group. Functionally, Met-RANTES administration decreased adoptively transferred peritoneal macrophage homing into the joint.
Conclusion
The data suggest that the targeting of Th1-associated chemokine receptors reduce joint inflammation, bone destruction, and cell recruitment into joints with AIA.
doi:10.1002/art.21033
PMCID: PMC1282452  PMID: 15934086
18.  Effectiveness, Medication Patterns, and Adverse Events of Traditional Chinese Herbal Patches for Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review 
Objective. The aim of this study is to systematically evaluate the evidence whether traditional Chinese herbal patches (TCHPs) for osteoarthritis (OA) are effective and safe and analyze their medication patterns. Methods. A systematic literature search was performed using all the possible Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and keywords from January 1979 to July 2013. Both randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies were included. Estimated effects were analyzed using mean difference (MD) or relative risk (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) and meta-analysis. Results. 86 kinds of TCHPs were identified. RCTs and controlled clinical trials (CCTs) which were mostly of low quality favored TCHPs for local pain and dysfunction relief. TCHPs, compared with diclofenac ointment, had significant effects on global effectiveness rate (RR = 0.50; 95% CI (0.29, 0.87)). Components of formulae were mainly based on the compounds “Xiao Huo Luo Dan” (Minor collateral-freeing pill) and “Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang” (Angelicae Pubescentis and Loranthi decoction). Ten kinds of adverse events (AEs), mainly consisting of itching and/or local skin rashes, were identified after 3-4 weeks of follow-up. Conclusions. TCHPs have certain evidence in improving global effectiveness rate for OA; however, more rigorous studies are warranted to support their use.
doi:10.1155/2014/343176
PMCID: PMC3914464  PMID: 24527043
19.  Kinetics and interplay of mediators of inflammation-induced bone damage in the course of adjuvant arthritis 
Background
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation, bone erosion, and cartilage destruction in the joints. It is increasingly being realized that inflammation might play an important role in inducing bone damage in arthritis. However, there is limited validation of this concept in vivo in well-controlled experimental conditions. We have addressed this issue using the adjuvant arthritis (AA) model of RA.
Methods
In AA, the draining lymph nodes are the main sites of activation of pathogenic leukocytes, which then migrate into the joints leading to the induction of arthritis. We tested the temporal kinetics of mediators of bone damage (e.g., receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL), osteoprotegerin (OPG) and osteopontin (OPN)) and of mediators of inflammation (pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines) in the draining lymph node cells (LNC) at different phases of AA, and then examined their inter-relationships.
Results
Our study revealed that, together with cytokines/chemokines, the mediators of bone remodeling also are produced in LNC. Various cytokines/chemokines showed distinct kinetics of expression as well as patterns of correlation with mediators of bone remodeling at different phases of the disease. Pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α are known to play an important role in bone damage. Interestingly, there was a positive correlation between TNF-α and RANKL, between RANKL and each of the 3 chemokines tested (RANTES, MIP-1α, and GRO/KC), and between TNF-α and RANTES.
Conclusion
Our results in the AA model lend support to the concept of osteo-immune crosstalk during the course of autoimmune arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3764433  PMID: 23527707
20.  Monoarticular antigen-induced arthritis leads to pronounced bilateral upregulation of the expression of neurokinin 1 and bradykinin 2 receptors in dorsal root ganglion neurons of rats 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(5):424-427.
This study describes the upregulation of neurokinin 1 and bradykinin 2 receptors in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in the course of antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) in the rat knee. In the acute phase of AIA, which was characterized by pronounced hyperalgesia, there was a substantial bilateral increase in the proportion of lumbar DRG neurons that express neurokinin 1 receptors (activated by substance P) and bradykinin 2 receptors. In the chronic phase the upregulation of bradykinin 2 receptors persisted on the side of inflammation. The increase in the receptor expression is relevant for the generation of acute and chronic inflammatory pain.
Introduction:
Ongoing pain and hyperalgesia (enhanced pain response to stimulation of the tissue) are major symptoms of arthritis. Arthritic pain results from the activation and sensitization of primary afferent nociceptive nerve fibres ('pain fibres') supplying the tissue (peripheral sensitization) and from the activation and sensitization of nociceptive neurons in the central nervous system (central sensitization). After sensitization, nociceptive neurons respond more strongly to mechanical and thermal stimulation of the tissue, and their activation threshold is lowered. The activation and sensitization of primary afferent fibres results from the action of inflammatory mediators such as bradykinin (BK), prostaglandins and others on membrane receptors located on these neurons. BK is a potent pain-producing substance that is contained in inflammatory exudates. Up to 50% of the primary afferent nerve fibres have receptors for BK. When primary afferent nerve fibres are activated they can release neuropeptides such as substance P (SP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide from their sensory endings in the tissue. SP contributes to the inflammatory changes in the innervated tissue (neurogenic inflammation), and it might also support the sensitization of nociceptive nerve fibres by binding to neurokinin 1 (NK1) receptors. NK1 receptors are normally expressed on a small proportion of the primary afferent nerve fibres.
Aims:
Because the expression of receptors on the primary afferent neurons is essential for the pain-producing action of inflammatory mediators and neuropeptides, we investigated in the present study whether the expression of BK and NK1 receptors on primary afferent neurons is altered during the acute and chronic phases of an antigen-induced arthritis (AIA). AIA resembles in many aspects the inflammatory process of human rheumatoid arthritis. Because peptide receptors are expressed not only in the terminals of the primary afferent units but also in the cell bodies, we removed dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) of both sides from control rats and from rats with the acute or chronic phase of AIA and determined, after short-term culture of the neurons, the proportion of DRG neurons that expressed the receptors in the different phases of AIA. We also characterized the inflammatory process and the nociceptive behaviour of the rats in the course of AIA.
Materials and methods:
In 33 female Lewis rats 10 weeks old, AIA was induced in the right knee joint. First the rats were immunized in two steps with methylated bovine serum albumin (m-BSA) emulsified with Freund's complete adjuvant, and heat-inactivated Bordetella pertussis. After immunization, m-BSA was injected into the right knee joint cavity to induce arthritis. The joint swelling was measured at regular intervals. Nociceptive (pain) responses to mechanical stimulation of the injected and the contralateral knee were monitored in the course of AIA. Groups of rats were killed at different time points after the induction of AIA, and inflammation and destruction in the knee joint were graded by histological examination. The DRGs of both sides were dissected from segments L1–L5 and C1–C7 from arthritic rats, from eight immunized rats without arthritis and from ten normal control rats. Excised DRGs were dissociated into single cells which were cultured for 18 h.
The expression of the receptors was determined by assessment of the binding of SP-gold or BK-gold to the cultured neurons. For this purpose the cells were slightly fixed. Binding of SP-gold or BK-gold was detected by using enhancement with silver and subsequent densitometric analysis of the relative grey values of the neurons. Displacement controls were performed with SP, the specific NK1 receptor agonist [Sar9, Met(O2)11]-SP, BK, the specific BK 1 (B1) receptor agonist D-Arg (Hyp3-Thi5,8-D-Phe7)-BK and the specific BK 2 (B2) receptor agonist (Des-Arg10)-Lys-BK.
Results:
The inflammatory process in the injected right knee joint started on the first day after induction of AIA and persisted throughout the observation period of 84 days (Fig. 1). The initial phase of AIA was characterized by strong joint swelling and a predominantly granulocytic infiltration of the synovial membrane and the joint cavity (acute inflammatory changes). In the later phases of AIA (10–84 days after induction of AIA) the joint showed persistent swelling, and signs of chronic arthritic alterations such as infiltration of mononuclear leucocytes, hyperplasia of synovial lining layer (pannus formation) and erosions of cartilage and bone were predominant. The contralateral knee joints appeared normal at all time points. Destruction was observed only in the injected knee but some proteoglycan loss was also noted in the non-injected, contralateral knee. In the acute and initial chronic phases of AIA (1–29 days) the rats showed mechanical hyperalgesia in the inflamed knee (limping, withdrawal response to gentle pressure onto the knee). In the acute phase (up to 9 days) a pain response was also seen when gentle pressure was applied to the contralateral knee.
Figure 2 displays the changes in the receptor expression in the DRG neurons during AIA. The expression of SP–gold-binding sites in lumbar DRG neurons (Fig. 2a) was substantially increased in the acute phase of arthritis. In untreated control rats (n = 5), 7.7 ± 3.8% of the DRG neurons from the right side and 10.0 ± 1.7% of the DRG neurons from the left side showed labelling with SP–gold. The proportion of SP–gold-labelled neurons in immunized animals without knee injection (n = 3) was similar. By contrast, at days 1 (n = 2 rats) and 3 (n = 5 rats) of AIA in the right knee, approximately 50% of the DRG neurons exhibited labelling with SP–gold, and this was seen both on the side of the injected knee and on the opposite side. At day 10 of AIA (n = 3 rats), 26.3 ± 6.1% of the ipsilateral DRG neurons but only 15.7 ± 0.6% of the contralateral neurons exhibited binding of SP–gold. At days 21 (n = 5 rats), 42 (n = 3 rats) and 84 (n = 5 rats) of AIA, the proportion of SP–gold-positive neurons had returned to the control values, although the arthritis, now with signs of chronic inflammation, was still present. Compared with the DRG neurons of the untreated control rats, the increase in the proportion of labelled neurons was significant on both sides in the acute phase (days 1 and 3) and the intermediate phase (day 10) of AIA (Mann–Whitney U-test). The size distribution of the neurons was similar in the DRG neurons of all experimental groups. Under all conditions and at all time points, SP–gold binding was found mainly in small and medium-sized (less than 700 μm2) neurons. In the cervical DRGs the expression of NK1 receptors did not change in the course of AIA. The binding of SP–gold to the neurons was suppressed by the coadministration of the specific NK1 receptor agonist [Sar9, Met(O2)11]–SP in three experiments, showing that SP–gold was bound to NK1 receptors.
The expression of BK–gold-binding sites in the lumbar DRG neurons showed also changes in the course of AIA, but the pattern was different (Fig. 2b). In untreated control rats (n = 5), 42.3 ± 3.1% of the DRG neurons of the right side and 39.6 ± 2.6% of the DRG neurons of the left side showed binding of BK–gold. At days 1 (n = 2 rats) and 3 (n = 5 rats) of AIA, approximately 80% of the DRG neurons on the side of the knee injection (ipsilateral) and approximately 70% on the opposite side were labelled. In comparison with the untreated control group, the increase in the proportion of labelled neurons was significant on both sides. The proportion of labelled neurons in the ipsilateral DRGs remained significantly increased in both the intermediate phase (day 10, n = 3 rats) and chronic phase (days 21, n = 5 rats, and 42, n = 3 rats) of inflammation. At 84 days after the induction of AIA (n = 5 rats), 51.0 ± 12.7% of the neurons showed an expression of BK–gold-binding sites and this was close to the prearthritic values. However, in the contralateral DRG of the same animals the proportion of BK–gold-labelled neurons declined in the intermediate phase (day 10) and chronic phase (days 21–84) of AIA and was not significantly different from the control value. Thus the increase in BK–gold-labelled neurons was persistent on the side where the inflammation had been induced, and transient on the opposite side. The size distribution of the DRG neurons of the different experimental groups was similar. In the cervical DRGs the expression of BK receptors did not change in the course of AIA. In another series of experiments, we determined the subtype(s) of BK receptor(s) that were expressed in DRGs L1–L5 in different experimental groups. In neither untreated control animals (n = 5) nor immunized rats without knee injection (n = 5) nor in rats at 3 days (n = 5) and 42 days (n = 5) of AIA was the binding of BK–gold decreased by the coadministration of BK–gold and the B1 agonist. By contrast, in these experimental groups the binding of BK–gold was suppressed by the coadministration of the B2 agonist. These results show that B2 receptors, but not B1 receptors, were expressed in both normal animals and in animals with AIA.
Discussion:
These results show that in AIA in the rat the expression of SP-binding and BK-binding sites in the perikarya of DRGs L1–L5 is markedly upregulated in the course of knee inflammation. Although the inflammation was induced on one side only, the initial changes in the binding sites were found in the lumbar DRGs of both sides. No upregulation of SP-binding or BK-binding sites was observed in the cervical DRGs. The expression of SP-binding sites was upregulated only in the first days of AIA, that is, in the acute phase, in which the pain responses to mechanical stimulation were most pronounced. By contrast, the upregulation of BK-binding sites on the side of AIA persisted for up to 42 days, that is, in the acute and chronic phase of AIA. Only the B2 receptor, not the B1 receptor, was upregulated. The coincidence of the enhanced expression of NK1 and BK receptors on sensory neurons and the pain behaviour suggests that the upregulation of these receptors is relevant for the generation and maintenance of arthritic pain.
In the acute phase of AIA, approximately 50% of the lumbar DRG neurons showed an expression of SP-binding sites. Because peptide receptors are transported to the periphery, the marked upregulation of SP-binding receptors probably leads to an enhanced density of receptors in the sensory endings of the primary afferent units. This will permit SP to sensitize more neurons under inflammatory conditions than under normal conditions. However, the expression of NK1 receptors was upregulated only in the acute phase of inflammation, suggesting that SP and NK1 receptors are less important for the generation of hyperalgesia in the chronic phase of AIA.
Because BK is one of the most potent algesic compounds, the functional consequence of the upregulation of BK receptors is likely to be of immediate importance for the generation and maintenance of inflammatory pain. The persistence of the upregulation of BK receptors on the side of inflammation suggests that BK receptors should be an interesting target for pain treatment in the acute and chronic phases. Only B2 receptors were identified in normal animals and in rats with AIA. This is surprising because previous pharmacological studies have provided evidence that, during inflammation, B1 receptors can be newly expressed.
Receptor upregulation in the acute phase of AIA was bilateral and almost symmetrical. However, hyperalgesia was much more pronounced on the inflamed side. It is most likely that receptors on the contralateral side were not readily activated because in the absence of gross inflammation the local concentration of the ligands BK and SP was probably quite low. We hypothesize that the bilateral changes in receptor expression are generated at least in part by mechanisms involving the nervous system. Symmetrical segmental changes can be produced only by the symmetrical innervation, involving either the sympathetic nervous system or the primary afferent fibres. Under inflammatory conditions, primary afferent fibres can be antidromically activated bilaterally in the entry zone of afferent fibres in the spinal cord, and it was proposed that this antidromic activation might release neuropeptides and thus contribute to neurogenic inflammation. Because both sympathetic efferent fibres and primary afferent nerve fibres can aggravate inflammatory symptoms, it is also conceivable that they are involved in the regulation of receptor expression in primary afferent neurons. A neurogenic mechanism might also have been responsible for the bilateral degradation of articular cartilage in the present study.
PMCID: PMC17819  PMID: 11056677
antigen-induced arthritis; bradykinin receptor; dorsal root ganglion neurons; neurokinin 1 receptor; pain
21.  CELASTRUS TREATMENT MODULATES ANTIGEN-INDUCED GENE EXPRESSION IN LYMPHOID CELLS OF ARTHRITIC RATS 
Summary
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a debilitating autoimmune disease of global prevalence and the disease process primarily targets the synovial joints. Despite improvements in the treatment of RA over the past decade, there still is a need for new therapeutic agents that are efficacious, less expensive, and free of severe adverse reactions. Celastrus has been used in China for centuries for the treatment of rheumatic diseases. Further, we reported previously that ethanol extract of Celastrus aculeatus Merr. (Celastrus) attenuates adjuvant-induced arthritis (AA) in rats. However, the mechanisms underlying the anti-arthritic activity of Celastrus have not yet been fully defined. We reasoned that microarray analysis might offer useful insights into the pathways and molecules targeted by Celastrus. We compared the gene expression profiles of the draining lymph node cells (LNC) of Celastrus-treated (Tc) versus water-treated (Tw) rats, and each group with untreated arthritic rats before starting any treatment (To). LNC were restimulated with mycobaterial heat shock protein-65 (Bhsp65). We identified 104 differentially expressed genes (DEG) (8 upregulated, 96 downregulated) when comparing Tc with T0 rats, in contrast to 28 (12 upregulated, 16 downregulated) when comparing Tw and T0 rats. Further, 20 genes (6 upregulated, 14 downregulated) were shared by both Tw and Tc groups. Thus, Celastrus treatment (Tc) significantly downregulated a large proportion of genes compared to controls (Tw). The DEG were mainly associated with the processes of immune response, cell proliferation and apoptosis, and signaling regulation and signaling transduction. These results provide novel insights into the mechanism of anti-arthritic activity Celastrus, and unravel potential therapeutic targets for arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3779360  PMID: 22697077
Celastrus; microarray; gene expression profile; adjuvant-induced arthritis
22.  Cytokines profiling by multiplex analysis in experimental arthritis: which pathophysiological relevance for articular versus systemic mediators? 
Introduction
We have taken advantage of the large screening capacity of a multiplex immunoassay to better define the respective contribution of articular versus systemic cytokines in experimental arthritis.
Methods
We performed a follow up (from 7 hours to 14 days) multiplex analysis of 24 cytokines in synovial fluid and sera of rats developing Antigen-Induced Arthritis (AIA) and confronted their protein level changes with molecular, biochemical, histological and clinical events occurring in the course of the disease.
Results
The time-scheduled findings in arthritic joints correlated with time-dependent changes of cytokine amounts in joint effusions but not with their blood levels. From seven hours after sensitization, high levels of chemokines (MCP-1, MIP1α, GRO/KC, RANTES, eotaxin) were found in synovial fluid of arthritic knees whereas perivascular infiltration occurred in the synovium; local release of inflammatory cytokines (IFNγ, IL-1β, IL-6) preceded the spreading of inflammation and resulted in progressive degradation of cartilage and bone. Finally a local overexpression of several cytokines/adipocytokines poorly described in arthritis (IL-13, IL-18, leptin) was observed.
Conclusions
Distinct panels of cytokines were found in arthritic fluid during AIA, and the expected effect of mediators correlated well with changes occurring in joint tissues. Moreover, multiplex analysis could be helpful to identify new pathogenic mediators and to elucidate the mechanisms supporting the efficacy of putative targeted therapies.
doi:10.1186/ar3774
PMCID: PMC3446427  PMID: 22414623
23.  Anti-Arthritic Effects of Magnolol in Human Interleukin 1β-Stimulated Fibroblast-Like Synoviocytes and in a Rat Arthritis Model 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31368.
Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) play an important role in the pathologic processes of destructive arthritis by producing a number of catabolic cytokines and metalloproteinases (MMPs). The expression of these mediators is controlled at the transcriptional level. The purposes of this study were to evaluate the anti-arthritic effects of magnolol (5,5′-Diallyl-biphenyl-2,2′-diol), the major bioactive component of the bark of Magnolia officinalis, by examining its inhibitory effects on inflammatory mediator secretion and the NF-κB and AP-1 activation pathways and to investigate its therapeutic effects on the development of arthritis in a rat model. The in vitro anti-arthritic activity of magnolol was tested on interleukin (IL)-1β-stimulated FLS by measuring levels of IL-6, cyclooxygenase-2, prostaglandin E2, and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) by ELISA and RT-PCR. Further studies on how magnolol inhibits IL-1β-stimulated cytokine expression were performed using Western blots, reporter gene assay, electrophoretic mobility shift assay, and confocal microscope analysis. The in vivo anti-arthritic effects of magnolol were evaluated in a Mycobacterium butyricum-induced arthritis model in rats. Magnolol markedly inhibited IL-1β (10 ng/mL)-induced cytokine expression in a concentration-dependent manner (2.5–25 µg/mL). In clarifying the mechanisms involved, magnolol was found to inhibit the IL-1β-induced activation of the IKK/IκB/NF-κB and MAPKs pathways by suppressing the nuclear translocation and DNA binding activity of both transcription factors. In the animal model, magnolol (100 mg/kg) significantly inhibited paw swelling and reduced serum cytokine levels. Our results demonstrate that magnolol inhibits the development of arthritis, suggesting that it might provide a new therapeutic approach to inflammatory arthritis diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031368
PMCID: PMC3281074  PMID: 22359588
24.  Hyaluronan modulates accumulation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha, inducible nitric oxide synthase, and matrix metalloproteinase-3 in the synovium of rat adjuvant-induced arthritis model 
Introduction
Hypoxia is a feature of the inflamed synovium in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Intra-articular injection of hyaluronan (HA) may be considered a potential way to treat RA. However, the exact molecular mechanism of HA on decreased cellular responses to hypoxic environment is unclear. The present study has been designed to use the adjuvant-induced arthritis model to examine the effects of HA on the changes of immunohistochemical expressions of hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP3) in the synovial tissues at the early phase of arthritic inflammation.
Methods
Monoarthritis was induced in adult male Sprague-Dawley (250-300 g) via intraarticular injection of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) into the tibiotarsal joint. The CFA-induction arthritis animals were divided into three groups: treatment (intraarticular injection of HA), placebo (intraarticular injection of saline) and controls (no treatments). Functional evaluations of edema and pain behavior, histology, and HIF-1alpha, iNOS, and MMP3 immunohistochemistry were performed before, after the first injection, three injections, and on the follow-up injection of the treatments.
Results
Intra-articular injection of HA also significantly suppressed the mechanical allodynia (p < 0.001) and overexpressions of HIF-1alpha (p < 0.001), iNOS (p = 0.004) and MMP3 (p < 0.001) immunoreactivity in synovium.
Conclusions
This study demonstrated that early intervention of HA is an effective protection against accumulation of inflammation-induced HIF-1alpha, iNOS, and MMP3 to limit erosive damage in CFA-induced model of arthritis.
doi:10.1186/ar3365
PMCID: PMC3218905  PMID: 21679445
25.  Successful immunotherapy with matrix metalloproteinase-derived peptides in adjuvant arthritis depends on the timing of peptide administration 
Arthritis Research  2002;4(4):R2.
We have recently found that matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are targets for T-cell and B-cell reactivity in experimental arthritis. In the present article, we investigate whether modulation of MMP-specific T-cell responses could influence the course of adjuvant arthritis (AA). Lewis rats were treated nasally with MMP peptides prior to or after AA induction. Administration of the MMP-10 or the MMP-16 peptide prior to AA induction reduced the arthritic symptoms. In contrast, administration of the MMP-10 peptide after AA induction aggravated the arthritic symptoms. The present study shows the possible usefulness of MMP peptides for immunotherapy. However, a clear understanding of proper timing of peptide administration is crucial for the development of such therapies.
doi:10.1186/ar421
PMCID: PMC125294  PMID: 12106501
adjuvant arthritis; immunotherapy; matrix metalloproteinase; nasal treatment; peptides

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