Baicalin suppresses IL-1β-induced expression of inflammatory cytokines via blocking NF-κB in human osteoarthritis chondrocytes and shows protective effect in mice osteoarthritis models

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease with an inflammatory component that drives the degradation of cartilage extracellular matrix. Baicalin, a predominant flavonoid isolated from the dry root of Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi, has been reported to have anti-inflammatory effects. However, the anti-inflammatory effects of baicalin on OA have not been reported. Our study aimed to investigate the effect of baicalin on OA both in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, human OA chondrocytes were pretreated with baicalin (10, 50, 100 μM) for 2 h and subsequently stimulated with IL-1β for 24 h. Production of NO and PGE2 were evaluated by the Griess reaction and ELISAs. The mRNA expression of COX-2, iNOS, MMP-3, MMP-13, ADAMTS-5, aggrecan and collagen-II were measured by real-time PCR. The protein expression of COX-2, iNOS, MMP-3, MMP-13, ADAMTS-5, p65, p-p65, IκBα and p-IκBα was detected by Western blot. The protein expression of collagen-II was evaluated by immunofluorescence. Luciferase activity assay was used to assess the relative activity of NF-kB. In vivo, the severity of OA was determined by histological analysis. We found that baicalin significantly inhibited the IL-1β-induced production of NO and PGE2, expression of COX-2, iNOS, MMP-3, MMP-13 and ADAMTS-5 and degradation of aggrecan and collagen-II. Furthermore, baicalin dramatically suppressed IL-1β-stimulated NF-κB activation. In vivo, treatment of baicalin not only prevented the destruction of cartilage but also relieved synovitis in mice OA models. Taken together, these results suggest that baicalin may be a potential agent in the treatment of OA.

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