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Network Pharmacology-Based Prediction and Verification of Qingluo Tongbi Formula to Reduce Liver Toxicity of Tripterygium wilfordii via UGT2B7 in Endoplasmic Reticulum

Ming Li, Jing Wang, Ling Fu, Yan Lu, Jianya Xu, Lingling Zhou, Huaxu Zhu, Liang Fang, Zhe Feng, Tong Xie, Xueping Zhou

(The First Clinical Medical College, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China (mainland))

Med Sci Monit 2020; 26:e920376

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.920376

BACKGROUND: The hepatotoxicity of Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. f. (TWHF) limits its clinic utilization. Qingluo Tongbi formula (QTF) was formulated based on a basic Chinese medicine theory. Previous studies have confirmed the safety and efficacy of QTF in treating rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, we considered that TWHF could be detoxified based on its reasonable compatibility with QTF. We investigated the detoxicity mechanism of QTF in reducing the liver toxicity of TWHF.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: We used network pharmacology to determine the relevant metabolism targets of TWHF, focusing on the phase II metabolic enzymes uridine diphosphate-glucuronosyltransferase 1A1 (UGT1A1), UGT1A6, and UGT2B7. Based on the molecular mechanisms of these predictions and the results of the network analysis, we designed experiments to verify our hypothesis in vivo. We used western blotting, real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), double immunofluorescence, and laser confocal microscopy to detect the expression of UGTs. Finally, we used transmission electron microscopy to observe the endoplasmic reticulum structure.
RESULTS: The results confirmed that QTF reversed the TWHF-induced reduction of UGT content in liver microsomes, upregulated UGT1A1 and UGT1A6 but not UGT2B7 in the liver tissue. UGT2B7 expression in the liver and liver microsomes was inconsistent. QTF upregulated the expression of UGT2B7 in the endoplasmic reticulum, and QTF upregulated UGT2B7 expression levels in the endoplasmic reticulum compared with TWHF, which reduced liver toxicity. Structural changes were observed in the endoplasmic reticulum.
CONCLUSIONS: The Chinese traditional medicine compound QTF can achieve the effect of detoxification by upregulating the expression of UGT2B7 in the endoplasmic reticulum.

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