Abstract Title:

Anti-angiogenic effect of Shikonin in rheumatoid arthritis by downregulating PI3K/AKT and MAPKs signaling pathways.

Abstract Source:

J Ethnopharmacol. 2020 Jun 1:113039. Epub 2020 Jun 1. PMID: 32497675

Abstract Author(s):

Chunfang Liu, Lianhua He, Jingxia Wang, Qianqian Wang, Congcong Sun, Yiqun Li, Kexin Jia, Jinxia Wang, Tengteng Xu, Ruirui Ming, Qingwen Wang, Na Lin

Article Affiliation:

Chunfang Liu


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Zicao is the dried root of Lithospermum erythrorhizon Sieb, et Zucc, Arnebia euchroma (Royle) Johnst, or Arnebia guttata Bunge and commonly used to treat viral infection, inflammation, arthritis and cancer in China.Shikonin (SKN) is a major active chemical component isolated from zicao. Previous reseach showed that SKN has anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and analgesic effects, and inhibits the development of arthritis and the condition of collagen arthritis (CIA) mice; nevertheless, its role in the angiogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has not been elucidated.

AIM OF THE STUDY: The purpose of this study was to investigate the antiangiogenic activity of SKN in CIA rats and various angiogenesis models.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The anti-arthritic effect of SKN on CIA rats was tested by arthritis score, arthritis incidence, radiological observation and histopathology evaluation of inflamed joints. Vessel density evaluated with CD31 immunohistochemistry/immunofluorescence in joint synovial membrane tissues of CIA rats, chick chorioallantoic membrane assay, rat aortic ring assay, and the migration, invasion, adhesion and tube formation of HUVEC induced by TNF-α were used to measured the antiangiogenenic activity of SKN. Moreover, the effect of SKN on the expression of angiogenic mediators, such as VEGF, VEGFR2, TNF-α, IL-1β, PDGF and TGF-β in sera and joint synovia of rats, and in TNF-α-induced MH7A/HUVEC cells were measured by immunohistochemistry,enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, Western blot and/or real-time PCR. Through the analysis of protein and mRNA levels of PI3K, Akt and PTEN, and the autophosphorylation of ERK1/2, JNK and p38 in joint synovia of rats and in TNF-α-induced HUVEC cells, the molecular mechanism of its inhibition was elucidated by using Western blot and/or real-time PCR.

RESULTS: SKN significantly reduced the arthritis score and arthritis incidence, and inhibited inflammation, pannus formation, cartilage and bone destruction of inflamed joints in CIA rats. Partially, SKN remarkably decreased the immature blood vessels in synovial membrane tissues of inflamed joints from CIA rats. It also suppressed in vivo angiogenesis in chick embryo and VEGF-induced microvessel sprout formation ex vivo. Meanwhile, SKN inhibited TNF-α-induced migration, invasion, adhesion and tube formation of HUVEC cells. Moreover, SKN significantly decreased the expression of angiogenic activators including VEGF, VEGFR2, TNF-α, IL-1β, PDGF and TGF-β in synovia of CIA rats and/or in MH7A/HUVEC cells. More interestingly, SKN downregulated PI3K and Akt, and simultaneously upregulated PTEN both at protein and mRNA levels in synovia tissues and/or in TNF-α-induced HUVEC cells. It also suppressed the phosphorylation and gene level of TNF-α-induced signaling molecules, as ERK1/2, JNK, and p38 in synovium and/or in TNF-α-induced HUVEC cells.

CONCLUSION: These findings indicate for the first time that SKN has the anti-angiogenic effect in RA in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro by interrupting the PI3K/AKT and MAPKs signaling pathways.

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