20 June 2017
Triptolide (TP) from Tripterygium wilfordii has been demonstrated to possess anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, and anticancer activities. TP is specially used for the treatment of awkward rheumatoid arthritis, but its clinical application is confined by intense side effects. It is reported that licorice can obviously reduce the toxicity of TP, but the detailed mechanisms involved have not been comprehensively investigated. The current study aimed to explore metabolomics characteristics of the toxic reaction induced by TP and the intervention effect of licorice water extraction (LWE) against such toxicity. Obtained urine samples from control, TP and TP + LWE treated rats were analyzed by UPLC/ESI-QTOF-MS. The metabolic profiles of the control and the TP group were well differentiated by the principal component analysis and orthogonal partial least squares-discriminant analysis. The toxicity of TP was demonstrated to be evolving along with the exposure time of TP. Eight potential biomarkers related to TP toxicity were successfully identified in urine samples. Furthermore, LWE treatment could attenuate the change in six of the eight identified biomarkers. Functional pathway analysis revealed that the alterations in these metabolites were associated with tryptophan, pantothenic acid, and porphyrin metabolism. Therefore, it was concluded that LWE demonstrated interventional effects on TP toxicity through regulation of tryptophan, pantothenic acid, and porphyrin metabolism pathways, which provided novel insights into the possible mechanisms of TP toxicity as well as the potential therapeutic effects of LWE against such toxicity.