07 December 2015
Tanshinone IIA (Tan IIA) (C 19H 18O 3) is one of the major active lipophilic components in a conventional Chinese medicine called danshen, and it has long been used in the People’s Republic of China and other neighboring countries to treat patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Previous experiments by many teams determined which mechanism of Tan IIA is relevant to the treatment of IBD associated with inflammation and the pregnane X receptor (PXR). The current study demonstrated that Tan IIA is an efficacious PXR agonist and its ability to induce CYP3A4 mRNA and protein expression was mediated by the transactivation of PXR, a known target of abrogating inflammation in IBD. Clinical symptoms in mice and histological assessment data suggested that administration of Tan IIA in mice demonstrated significant protection and showed that in DSS-induced IBD it acts in a concentration-dependent manner. PXR-silenced mice treated with Tan IIA demonstrated low protection against DSS-induced mouse IBD and exacerbated the severity of IBD compared with wild-type mice; PXR-silenced mice demonstrated the necessity for PXR in Tan IIA-mediated upregulation of xenobiotic metabolism genes. The IBD treatment effects of Tan IIA are partially due to PXR-mediated upregulation of xenobiotic metabolism and downregulation of inflammatory mediators. The novel findings reported here may contribute to the effective utilization of Tan IIA and its derivatives as a PXR ligand in the treatment of human IBD. This suggests that Tan IIA may have considerable clinical utility.