Natural Compounds for the Treatment of Psoriatic Arthritis: A Proposal Based on Multi-Targeted Osteoclastic Regulation and on a Preclinical Study

Shiqiang Deng, Jianwen Cheng, Jinmin Zhao, Felix Yao, Jiake Xu

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11 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic inflammatory arthritis affecting approximately 2% to 3% of the population globally, and is characterized by both peripheral articular manifestations and axial skeletal involvement. Conventional therapies for PsA have not been fully satisfactory, though natural products (NPs) have been shown to be highly effective and represent important treatment options for psoriasis. PsA is a multigenic autoimmune disease with both environmental and genetic factors contributing to its pathogenesis. Accordingly, it is likely that the use of natural compounds with a multi-targeted approach will enable us to develop better therapies for PsA and related disorders.

OBJECTIVE: PsA, either on joint damage or on bone erosion, has been shown to respond to anti-psoriatic pharmacotherapy (APP), APP-like NPs, and their natural compounds. This study aims to uncover specific natural compounds for improved PsA remedies. Specifically, by targeting bone erosion caused by increased osteoclastic bone resorption, we aim to predict the key signaling pathways affected by natural compounds. Further, the study will explore their anti-arthritis effects using an in silico, in vitro, and in vivo approach. Following the signaling pathway prediction, a preclinical efficacy study on animal models will be undertaken. Collectively, this work will discover lead compounds with improved therapeutic effects on PsA.

METHODS: We hypothesize that 9 potential APP-like NPs will have therapeutic effects on arthritis via the modulation of osteoclast bone resorption and signaling pathways. For in silico identification, the Latin name of each NP will be identified using the Encyclopedia of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Encyclopedia of TCM). The biological targets of NPs will be predicted or screened using the Herbal Ingredients' Targets (HIT) database. With the designed search terms, DrugBank will be used to further filter the above biological targets. Protein ANnotation THrough Evolutionary Relationship (PANTHER) will be used to predict the pathways of the natural compound sources. Subsequently, an in vitro sample preparation including extraction, fractionation, isolation, purification, and bioassays with high-speed counter-current chromatography-high-performance liquid chromatography-diode array detection (HSCCC-HPLC-DAD) will be carried out for each identified natural source. In vitro investigations into the effect of NPs on osteoclast signaling pathways will be performed. The experimental methods include cell viability assays, osteoclastogenesis and resorption pit assays, quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), western blot, and luciferase reporter gene assays. Finally, an in vivo preclinical efficacy on a collagen-induced arthritis rat model will be carried out using a treatment group (n=10), a control group (n=10), and a non-arthritis group (n=10). Main outcome measure assessments during intervention include daily macroscopic scores and a digital calipers measurement. Post-treatment tissue measurements will be analyzed by serological testing, radiographic imaging, and histopathological assessment.

RESULTS: Studies are currently underway to evaluate the in silico data and the in vitro effects of compounds on osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption. The preclinical study is expected to start a year following completion of the in silico analysis.

CONCLUSIONS: The in silico rapid approach is proposed as a more general method for adding value to the results of a systematic review of NPs. More importantly, the proposed study builds on a multi-targeted approach for the identification of natural compounds for future drug discovery. This innovative approach is likely to be more precise, efficient, and compatible to identify the novel natural compounds for effective treatment of PsA.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere132
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2017


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