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Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine ›› 2009, Vol. 7 ›› Issue (2): 157-162.doi: 10.3736/jcim20090212

• Original Experimental Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Treatment of adjuvant arthritis in rats with Chinese herbal fumigation: Efficacy and mechanism

 Ying Shena, Ji-di Lub   

  1. a Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine,Guangzhou Army General Hospital, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province 510010, China
    b Department of Rheumatism,Liu’an People’s Hospital,Liu’an,Anhui Province 237005,China;
  • Received:2008-07-16 Accepted:2008-08-26 Online:2009-02-20 Published:2009-02-15


To observe the efficacy of fumigation with Fumigant Ⅰ formula, a compound traditional Chinese herbal medicine, in treating adjuvant arthritis (AA) in rats and to explore its anti-inflammation mechanism.

Fifty male Wistar rats were randomly divided into normal control group, untreated group, distilled-water fumigation group, and low- and high-dose herb fumigation groups. Except for the normal control group, the other rats were used to induce AA by complete Freund's adjuvant injection. After treatments, the degree of foot swelling, the pathological changes and expressions of the inflammatory cytokines including interleukin-1β (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) in the ankle joint were detected. The contents of these cytokines in the serum were also observed.

In two Chinese herbal fumigation groups, as compared with the untreated group, foot swelling was obviously reduced (P<0.05); the pathological changes of the ankle joint, such as inflammatory cell infiltration, fibrous tissue and synovial cell proliferation in the ankle joint were obviously improved (P<0.05, P<0.01); the positive expressions of IL-1β, TNF-α, ICAM-1 in the ankle joint were significantly down-regulated (P<0.05); and the contents of these inflammatory cytokines in the serum were obviously decreased (P<0.05). The treatment effect in high-dose herb fumigation group was better than that in low-dose herb fumigation group and that in distilled-water fumigation group (P<0.05, P<0.01).

Fumigation with Chinese herbal medicine has a positive therapeutic effect on AA rats, and its anti-inflammatory mechanism may be related with inhibiting inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, TNF-α and ICAM-1.

Key words: Chinese herb fumigation, Adjuvant arthritis, Adhesion molecule-1, Rats

Table 1

Degrees of foot swelling below the ankle of rats in different groups(x±s, mL)"

Group n Degree of foot swelling
Pretreatment 12th day 14th day 16th day 18th day 20th day
Normal control 10 1.37±0.17 1.38±0.29 1.38±0.26 1.39±0.21 1.39±0.32 1.39±0.44
Untreated 9 1.72±0.21** 1.75±0.32** 1.76±0.32** 1.77±0.42** 1.79±0.42** 1.80±0.43**
Water fumigation 8 1.72±0.21** 1.73±0.25** 1.74±0.32** 1.74±0.23** 1.74±0.31* 1.71±0.32*
Low-dose herb fumigation 10 1.72±0.31** 1.73±0.35** 1.74±0.44** 1.73±0.43* 1.73±0.32* 1.70±0.45*
High-dose herb fumigation 10 1.72±0.32** 1.75±0.43** 1.75±0.44** 1.73±0.34* 1.70±0.33*△▲ 1.66±0.31*△▲

Table 2

Scores of pathological changes in the ankle of rats in different groups(x±s, score)"

Group n Inflammatory cell infiltration Fibrous tissue proliferation Synovial cell proliferation Total
Normal control 10 0.13±0.26 0.12±0.25 0.24±0.37 0.50±0.87
Untreated 9 2.64±0.47** 2.44±0.55** 2.20±0.67** 7.23±1.49**
Water fumigation 8 1.79±0.56** 2.20±0.38** 1.64±0.75** 5.62±1.52**
Low-dose herb fumigation 10 1.67±0.54** 1.73±0.54** 1.49±0.63** 4.93±1.72**
High-dose herb fumigation 10 1.52±0.51** 1.50±0.47**△▲ 0.73±0.42**△△▲▲□ 3.77±1.33**△▲□

Figure 1

Pathological changes in the ankle of rats in different groups by HE staining (Light microscopy, ×400) A: Normal control group; B: Untreated group; C: Water fumigation group; D: Low-dose herb fumigation group; E: High-dose herb fumigation group."

Table 3

Percentages of inflammatory cytokines expression in the ankle of rats in different groups (x±s, %)"

Group n IL-1β TNF-α ICAM-1
Strongly positive Total positive Strongly positive Total positive Strongly positive Total positive
Normal control 10 0.03±0.02 0.18±0.11 0.01±0.04 0.14±0.14 0.04±0.06 0.31±0.21
Untreated 10 0.43±0.16* 0.54±0.29* 0.39±0.22* 0.76±0.25* 0.47±0.25** 0.66±0.32*
Water fumigation 10 0.39±0.21* 0.48±0.23* 0.28±0.19* 0.64±0.21* 0.32±0.15** 0.59±0.26*
Low-dose herb fumigation 10 0.26±0.18*△▲ 0.59±0.14* 0.27±0.35* 0.43±0.31*△▲ 0.27±0.24** 0.59±0.27*
High-dose herb fumigation 10 0.21±0.25*△▲ 0.66±0.16* 0.29±0.11* 0.41±0.27*△▲ 0.24±0.14**△▲ 0.60±0.24*

Figure 2

Immunohistochemical staining of expression of inflammatory cytokines in the ankle of rats in different groups (Light microscopy, ×400) A: Normal control group; B: Untreated group; C: Water fumigation group; D: Low-dose herb fumigation group; E: High-dose herb fumigation group."

Table 4

Changes of the contents of cytokines in the serum of rats in different groups (x±s)"

Group n IL-1β (ng/L) TNF-α (μg/L) ICAM-1 (μg/L)
Normal control 10 26.28±7.16 7.16±1.82 321.64±46.75
Untreated 9 149.15±22.18** 32.31±6.47** 632.32±39.41**
Water fumigation 8 72.62±16.53** 26.57±5.12** 453.27±21.46*
Low-dose herb fumigation 10 67.54±19.54** 23.46±7.44** 437.45±58.67*
High-dose herb fumigation 10 64.37±22.45**△▲ 21.39±6.83**△▲ 398.82±46.53*△▲□
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