Deer Velvet Antler Extracts Exert Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Arthritic Effects on Human Rheumatoid Arthritis Fibroblast-Like Synoviocytes and Distinct Mouse Arthritis

Wei Jen Cheng, Hsuan Tzu Yang, Chih Chao Chiang, Kuei Hung Lai, Yu Li Chen, Huei Lin Shih, Jong Jen Kuo, Tsong Long Hwang, Chi Chien Lin

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes joint deformity and disability. Deer velvet antler (DA), a traditional Chinese medicine, has been used to treat various types of arthritis for several thousands of years, but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Herein, we investigated the anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory effects of DA in vitro and in vivo. The ethyl acetate layer of DA ethanol extract (DA-EE-EA) was used to treat tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-stimulated fibroblast-like synoviocyte MH7A cells, collagen-induced arthritis DBA/1 mice, and SKG mice with zymosan-induced arthritis. DA-EE-EA reduced nitric oxide production, prostaglandin E2 levels, and levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines including interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and IL-8 in MH7A cells. DA-EE-EA also downregulated the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase and the translocation of nuclear factor kappa B p65. Intraperitoneal injection of DA-EE-EA for 3 weeks substantially reduced clinical arthritis scores in vivo models. Pathohistological images of the hind paws showed that DA-EE-EA reduced immune cell infiltration, synovial hyperplasia, and cartilage damage. The levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IL-17A, and interferon-gamma, decreased in the hind paw homogenates of DA-EE-EA-treated mice. We also identified several potential components, such as hexadecanamide, oleamide, erucamide, and lysophosphatidylcholines, that might contribute to the anti-inflammatory effects of DA-EE-EA. In conclusion, DA-EE-EA has the potential to treat RA by regulating inflammatory responses. However, the individual components of DA-EE-EA and the underlying anti-inflammatory mechanisms need further investigation in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1617-1643
Number of pages27
JournalAmerican Journal of Chinese Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Collagen-Induced Arthritis
  • Deer Velvet Antler
  • Fibroblast-Like Synoviocyte
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • SKG Mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

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