Effect of a combination of Atractylodes macrocephala extract with strychnine on the TLR4/NF‑κB/NLRP3 pathway in MH7A cells
- Yijing Gao
- Dan Xin
- Xiao-Dong Liang
- Yingxue Tang
Affiliations: College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Jinan, Shandong 250355, P.R. China
- Published online on: January 9, 2023 https://doi.org/10.3892/etm.2023.11791
Copyright: © Gao
et al. This is an open access article distributed under the
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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is now widely recognized as a chronic systemic inflammatory autoimmune disease characterized by swelling, pain and stiffness, which are often disabling. Although the number of drugs available for the treatment of RA has increased in recent years, they are generally expensive, leave patients prone to relapse and can result in severe effects when discontinued. Thus, there is a need for an inexpensive drug with fewer side effects that can be adhered to relieve pain and slow down the progression of the disease. Strychnine, a traditional Chinese medicine, was often used in ancient times to treat swollen and painful joints; however, because of its somewhat toxic nature, it is often combined with Atractylodes macrocephala to reduce its toxicity for safer therapeutic action. The present study performed high‑performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)‑tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) analysis to confirm whether the use of strychnine with Atractylodes macrocephala had the effect of reducing strychnine content. MH7A cells were induced using IL‑1β to study the effect of strychnine with Atractylodes macrocephala on the Toll‑like receptor 4 (TLR4)/NF‑κB/NLR family pyrin domain‑containing 3 (NLRP3) pathway in order to verify its role in the treatment of RA. The results indicated that the combined application of HPLC‑MS/MS strychnine and Atractylodes macrocephala had a reducing effect on the strychnine content. From the subsequent experimental results, it can be inferred that Strychnine combined with Atractylodes macrocephala extract could promote the apoptosis of synovial cells, and could inhibit the expression levels of TLR4, NF‑κB and NLRP3 in the cells as well as reducing the MH7A‑positive cells. The expression levels of TLR4, IκB kinase β, NF‑κB and NLRP3 were significantly reduced after treatment with each administration group, resulting in a decrease in the phosphorylation levels of TLR4 and NF‑κB, indicating that the combination potently inhibited their phosphorylation. The combination of strychnine and atractylenolide II was also revealed to be the main active ingredient in the treatment of RA.