Arthritis is a medical condition that affects joint inflammation, with pain, swelling, and stiffness of the cartilage [1
]. Approximately 250 million people suffer from arthritis with enhancing incidence with aging and obesity concurrently with increasing numbers of joint injuries, indicating that arthritis is a burdensome and prevalent syndrome worldwide [2
]. The onset of arthritis is induced by the breakdown of cartilage in the joint, resulting in mechanical stress on the cartilage [3
]. Mechanical stress induces the production of interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) in chondrocytes, which increases the expression of inflammatory factors, such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2
]. In addition, nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) plays a critical role in the regulation of MMP-3, MMP-13, and COX-2, which control the production of cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM) and collagen type II alpha 1 chain (Col2a1) [6
]. Many pharmacological drugs used for the treatment of arthritis have focused on reducing the inflammatory response and include acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and duloxetine [8
]. Although chemical medications are used to reduce the pathogenesis of arthritis, adverse effects are associated with their long-term use, including constipation, nausea, and vomiting [11
Herbal plants have been used widely as alternative medicines for the treatment of diseases with fewer side effects than pharmacological medications [12
]. Previous studies have revealed that several plant extracts have anti-inflammatory effects, including OA-induced pathogenesis [13
]. In addition, herbal plants contain numerous bioactive compounds, which exert various beneficial effects on diseases [16
]. Cornus officinalis
(CO), a species of dogwood named cornelian cherries, is a deciduous tree belonging to the Cornaceae family that is prevalent in East Asia [17
]. CO has been used as a traditional medicine for the treatment of diabetes, hypertension, and renal failure [18
]. A recent study revealed that CO inhibited inflammation by reducing nitric oxide, PGE2
, and NF-κB activation [21
]. In addition, pharmaceutical bioactive components derived from CO extract have been identified, including loganin, morroniside, caffeic acid, and ursolic acid [22
]. Loganin, one of the most abundant compounds in CO extract, has been reported to be an anti-inflammatory agent by reducing reactive oxygen species and cytokines [23
] and inhibiting inflammatory responses by attenuating NF-κB downstream signaling [25
The aim of this study was to identify bioactive compounds in CO extract with the ability to ameliorate inflammation-mediated arthritis. The CO extract was fractionated to isolate a single compound. Next, the protective effects of loganin isolated from CO extract on arthritis were examined in primary chondrocytes in vitro and destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM) mouse model in vivo.
This study describes the anti-inflammatory effects of a single bioactive compound, loganin isolated from CO extract, on arthritis using in vitro and in vivo methods. Loganin is a popular iridoid glycoside found in a variety of herbal plants, including Alstonia boonei
, Strychnos nux-vomica
, and Cornus officinalis
]. The loganin content of each plant extract can differ significantly depending on the region, climate, and cultivation procedure [29
]. Thus, phytochemical constituents should be considered to examine biological activity and support the traditional use of these species [30
]. In this study, HPLC analysis revealed that the CO extract contained loganin as a major component responsible for anti-inflammatory agents; thus, the anti-arthritic effect of the CO extract was exerted by loganin.
Chondrocytes localize in the ECM of the articular subchondral region, which is responsible for maintenance of the superficial layer in cartilage [31
]. Inappropriate mechanical stress caused by synovial-fluid reduction and ECM degradation induces cartilage destruction, leading to the secretion of inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1β, in chondrocytes [33
]. IL-1β-mediated inflammation in articular chondrocytes is initiated by activation of the NF-κB signaling cascade [34
]. IL-1β binds to either IL-1 receptor 1 or Notch 1 in the cell membrane and stimulates NF-κB-dependent downstream signaling, such as COX-2, MMP-3, and MMP-13 transcriptional activity [35
]. In addition, IL-1β promotes PGE2
and collagenase type 2 secretion, which play a major role in the regulation of ECM degradation during arthritis development [36
]. Therefore, controlling IL-1β-mediated inflammation is crucial for inhibiting arthritis-induced pathogenesis. In the present study, loganin prevented IL-1β-induced inflammation in mouse primary cultured chondrocytes through the NF-κB-dependent downregulation of COX-2, MMP-3, MMP-13, PGE2
, and collagenase expression. These results indicate that loganin exerts an anti-inflammatory effect in primary cultured chondrocytes.
The DMM mouse has been used widely as an experimental animal model for investigating human arthritis [37
]. DMM is a mechanical surgery on the knee joint that induces inflammation in the articular cartilage [38
]. Continuous mechanical burden and inflammation of the cartilage leads to destruction of the subchondral region with osteophyte development, which is characterized by an increase in subchondral bone density in arthritis development [39
Our study revealed that the DMM-induced inflammation and destruction in the subchondral region of cartilage with osteophyte formation were prevented following loganin administration. The oral administration of loganin described in this study was characterized by a non-invasive therapeutic approach in comparison to that of previous reports [40
], which regarded loganin as an oral therapeutic agent against osteoarthritis. In addition, regarding the pharmacologic efficacy and drug bioavailability, metabolomic profiles, such as plasma concentration, should be used to evaluate drug properties [41
]. The plasma concentrations of loganin were eliminated within 4 h after oral administration of loganin. These results suggest that loganin might be a putative pharmacological agent for the prevention of arthritis.
4. Materials and Methods
4.1. Extraction and Identification of Loganin from CO Extract
CO fruits were obtained from Icheon and Yangpyeong (Gyeonggi-do, Korea). An ethanol extract of CO was evaporated, suspended in H2O, and then partitioned successively using hexane (1.6 g), dichloromethane (1.9 g), ethyl acetate (5.2 g), and butanol (40 g). The butanol extract was subjected to chromatography using a Diaion HP-20 gel column (Sigma, St. Louis, MO, USA) and a gradient H2O–methanol solvent system (0, 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100% MeOH). Subfractions were subjected to preparative high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC; Agilent Technologies, Santa Clara, CA, USA) and eluted with MeOH-H2O to obtain the compound. Commercial loganin was obtained from Sigma-Aldrich (St. Louis, MO, USA) and dissolved in distilled water for use in the in vitro and in vivo experiments.
4.2. Mouse Primary Chondrocyte Experiment and Cell Supernatant Analysis
Primary chondrocytes from the knee joints of 5-day-old mice were isolated using collagenase type II, as previously described [42
]. Cells (3 × 105
cells/well) were seeded in 6-well plates and maintained in Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA, USA) containing 10% fetal bovine serum and 1% penicillin/streptomycin (Invitrogen). To assess cell viability, cells were incubated in 96-well plates and treated with different concentrations of CO extract (2, 10, and 50 μg/mL) or loganin (2, 10, and 50 μM) for 48 h. Cell viability was assessed using a water-soluble tetrazolium salt (WST) assay following the manufacturer’s instructions (Donginbiotech, Seoul, Korea). The absorbance was measured at 450 nm using an iMark™ microplate absorbance reader (Bio-Rad, Hercules, CA, USA). PGE2
and collagenase levels in the cell supernatant were determined using a Prostaglandin E2 Parameter Assay Kit (R&D Systems, Minneapolis, MN, USA) and a EnzChek™ Gelatinase/Collagenase Assay Kit (Invitrogen), respectively, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
4.3. Western Blot Analysis and Immunohistochemistry
Cells were lysed with radioimmunoprecipitation (RIPA) buffer (BIOSESANG, Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do, Korea) containing protease and phosphatase inhibitor cocktails (Roche, Madison, WI, USA). Total lysates were separated by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and then transferred to a polyvinylidene fluoride membrane (Merck Millipore, Burlington, MA, USA). For immunohistochemistry (IHC), sections (3 μm) of the mouse subchondral bone region were placed on poly L-lysine-coated slides, which were then treated with 3% hydrogen peroxide to eliminate endogenous peroxide activity. Changes in the inflammatory response in chondrocytes and subchondral bone region and inflammatory proteins were analyzed with appropriate primary antibodies, as follows: anti-mouse COX-2 (sc-1745, Santa Cruz, Dallas, TX, USA), anti-mouse MMP-3 (ab52915, Abcam, Cambridge, UK), anti-mouse MMP-13 (ab51072, Abcam, Cambridge, UK), and anti-β-actin (sc-47778, Santa Cruz, Dallas, TX, USA). The densities of three independent results were quantified using ImageJ (Version 1.53g) software (NIH, Rockville, MA, USA).
4.4. Reverse-Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) and Quantitative RT-PCR
Total RNA was isolated from cultured cells using TRIzol reagent (Invitrogen) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The quantity and quality of RNA were measured by the optical density at 260/280 nm using a NanoDrop One Microvolume UV-VIS Spectrophotometer (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Waltham, MA, USA). Complementary DNA (cDNA) was synthesized using the RevertAid™ H Minus First Strand cDNA Synthesis Kit (Fermentas, Hanover, NH, USA). RT-PCR was performed using the HiPi Plus 5x PCR Master Mix (ELPIS Biotech, Daejeon, Korea), and qRT-PCR was performed using a CFX Connect Real-Time PCR Detection System (Bio-Rad, Hercules, CA, USA), in a total volume of 25 μL containing 100 ng of cDNA and a SYBR Green I qPCR kit (TaKaRa, Shiga, Japan). The following specific primers were used to evaluate the inflammatory response of chondrocytes: forward 5′-GGT CTG GTG CCT GGT CTG ATG AT-3′ and reverse 5′- GTC CTT TCA AGG AGA ATG GTG C-3′ for mouse COX-2; forward 5′- CTG TGT GTG GTT GTG TGC TCA TCC TAC-3′ and reverse 5′-GGC AAA TCC GGT GTA TAA TTC ACA ATC-3 for mouse MMP-3; forward 5′-TGA TGG ACC TTC TGG TCT GGC-3′ and reverse 5′- CAT CCA CAT GGT TGG GAA GTT CTG-3′ for mouse MMP-13; and forward 5′-TCA CTG CCA CCC AGA C-3′ and reverse 5′-TGT AGG CCA TGA GGT CCA C-3′ for mouse Gapdh. Relative gene expression was normalized to that of mouse Gapdh, and the mRNA expression values were presented as fold-changes compared to the control. The fold-changes were calculated using the 2−ΔΔCt method (ΔΔCt = ΔCtcontrol − ΔCttreatment).
4.5. Animal Studies
Nine-week-old male C57BL/6 mice were anesthetized using tiletamine/zolazepam (Zoletil; Virbac Laboratories, Carros, France), and the left medial meniscus was surgically removed. After surgery, mice were treated with loganin (5 mg, 20 mg/kg/day) or sham by oral gavage for 10 weeks. At the end of the experiment, the mice were anesthetized with tiletamine/zolazepam (Zoletil; Virbac Laboratories, Carros, France) and placed carefully on a specimen tray in the same position to measure knee joint bone mineral density using a PIXI-mus bone densitometer with the on-board PIXI-mus software (GE Lunar, Madison, WI, USA). Next, the knee joints were harvested and fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde for 48 h. The tissues were decalcified with 0.5 M EDTA (pH 8.0) for 2 weeks and then embedded in paraffin. For the histological assessment of cartilage damage, 5 μm slide sections were deparaffinized with xylene and stained with safranin O (Sigma). Stained tissues were visualized under a light microscope (Leica, Wetzlar, Germany). To analyze the metabolomic profile of loganin, mice were administered loganin (500 mg/kg) and plasma was collected 0, 5, 15, 30, 60, 120, and 240 min after administration. The plasma samples were stored at −80 °C until analysis. All animal experiments, including primary chondrocyte isolation and destabilization of the medial meniscus, were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the Ajou University School of Medicine (2016–0062).
4.6. Micro-CT Analysis
Transverse micro-CT images of the left knee joint were scanned using a high-energy spiral scan micro-CT (Skyscan 1173, Bruker, Billerica, MA, USA) under conditions of 400 μA (current), 60 kV (voltage), 1280 × 1280 (charge-coupled device camera readout), 400 ms (exposure time), and 360° (rotation step). Two-dimensional axial images were reconstructed using the NRecon software (Bruker) and displayed with a spatial resolution of 8.88 μM by an Inveon Research Workplace (Siemens). To improve slice-by-slice manual tracing of the trabecular bone shapes, axial reformats were conducted.
4.7. Statistical Analysis
Data in the bar graphs are presented as mean ± standard error of the mean (SEM). All statistical analyses were performed using GraphPad Prism 5.02 software (GraphPad Software, San Diego, CA, USA). The statistical significance of the values between the groups was evaluated by one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), followed by Tukey’s honest significant difference (HSD) post-hoc test for correction of multiple comparisons. p < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.