Background: To investigate the potential mechanism underlying the efficacy of BuShenHuoXue (BSHX) formula on Osteoarthritis (OA) and its molecular mechanism.
Materials and Methods: Data as for bioactive chemicals of individual herb in BSHX formula and their targets were collected from Traditional Chinese Medicine Systems Pharmacology database and OA-associated targets from Gene Expression Omnibus database, compound-disease target network and protein-protein interactions network were built, picturized and analyzed by Cytoscape. Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway enrichment of key targets were carried out and analyzed to probe into the core pathway and their main functions further. The chondrocytes of SD rats were cultured in vitro, and 50μg/ml IL-1βwas added to the chondrocytes to induce apoptosis. Different concentrations of quercetin were added to the experimental group and the apoptosis rate of chondrocytes, the difference of the expression of SELE, MMP2, and COL1 genes and their protein expression level were further detected.
Results: A total of 104 candidate chemicals and 42 crossing targets were screened out. Leading target genes are PTGS2, NCOA2 and HSP90AA1, whereas quercetin and luteolin are principal ingredients. Potential pathways against OA are AGE-RAGE signaling pathway in diabetic complications, Relaxin signaling pathway, IL-17 signaling pathway, Tyrosine metabolism and Endocrine resistance. Our study showed that quercetin could inhibit the apoptosis of chondrocytes induced by IL-1β, decrease SELE, MMP2 and COL1 mRNA expression, likewise decrease the expression of SELE, MMP2 and COL1 protein.
Conclusion: This study investigated the bioactive chemicals, crossing targets and possible mechanisms of BSHX formula against OA by network pharmacology strategy, results suggests that quercetin in BSHX formula may target on SELE, MMP2, and COL1 genes and then inhibit the progression of OA through the AGE-RAGE signaling pathway in diabetic complications. By the mechanism of reducing the apoptosis rate of SD rat chondrocytes and down-regulation the expression of genes involved in inflammation, we made sure that quercetin as principal ingredient can protect the cartilage. In addition, the conclusion of this study still need to be confirmed by in vivo and vitro experiments.