African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines

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Chinese herbal medicine and prednisone increase proportion of splenic CD4+CD25-FOXP3+ cells and alleviate glomerular lesion in MRL/LPRmice

L Ning, Z Jiaxi, L Ye, F Jieying, H Ganghua, S Xia


Objective: This study investigated the effects of Chinese herbal medicine and prednisone onCD4+FoxP3+ T cells (Tregs) and Th17 cells in the MRL/lpr mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus.
Methods: MRL/lpr mice were treated with herbal medicine (yin-nourishing and heat-clearing therapy), prednisone, and a combination of both for 7 weeks. The proportions of CD4+CD25-FOXP3+ cells, CD4+CD25-FOXP3+ cells, and CD4+IL-17+ cells in splenic mononuclear cell suspension were determined by flow cytometry. Histological slices of kidneys were stained by H&E, PAS, and Masson’s method. Activity indexes (AI) of glomerular lesions were scored.
Results: The result showed that both herbal medicine and prednisone significantly increased the proportion of CD4+CD25-FOXP3+ cells (P<0.05), but lowered the proportion of CD4+CD25-FOXP3+ cells (P<0.05) and CD4+IL-17+ cells (P<0.05) in MRL/lpr mice. Consequently, CD4+CD25-FOXP3+ cells became dominant CD4+ FoxP3+ cells after either treatment. AIl the glomerular lesions in both herbal medicine group and prednisone group were significantly lower than those in the model group (P<0.05). AI was positively related with the proportion of CD4+IL-17+ cells (Spearman's rho= 0.4958, P<0.05), but was negatively correlated with the proportions of CD4+Foxp3+ cells(Spearman's rho= -0.5934,P<0.05) and CD4+CD25-FOXP3+ cells (Spearman's rho= -0.5914,P<0.05).
Conclusion: Both Chinese herbal medicine and prednisone significantly enhanced the proportion of CD4+CD25-FOXP3+ cells and reduced the proportion of Th17 cells in lupus-prone MRL/lpr mice. Increased proportion of CD4+CD25-FOXP3+ cells was correlated with less severe glomerular lesions, indicating that CD4+CD25-FOXP3+ cells might play a regulatory role in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus.

Keywords: Systemic lupus erythematosus; regulatory T cells; Herbal medicine; Prednisone

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