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The pathogenesis of itchy skin diseases including allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is complicated and the treatment of chronic itch is a worldwide problem. One traditional Tibetan medicine, Qingpeng ointment (QP), has been used in treatment of ACD in China for years. In this study we used HPLC and LC/MS analysis, combined with a BATMAN-TCM platform, for detailed HPLC fingerprint analysis and network pharmacology of QP, and investigated the anti-inflammatory and antipruritic activities of QP on ACD induced by squaric acid dibutylester (SADBE) in mice. The BATMAN-TCM analysis provided information of effector molecules of the main ingredients of QP, and possible chronic dermatitis-associated molecules and cell signaling pathways by QP. In ACD mice, QP treatment suppressed the scratching behavior induced by SADBE in a dose-dependent manner and inhibited the production of Th1/2 cytokines in serum and spleen. Also, QP treatment reversed the upregulation of mRNAs levels of itch-related genes in the skin (TRPV4, TSLP, GRP, and MrgprA3) and DRGs (TRPV1, TRPA1, GRP, and MrgprA3). Furthermore, QP suppressed the phosphorylation of Erk and p38 in the skin. In all, our work indicated that QP can significantly attenuate the pathological alterations of Th1/2 cytokines and itch-related mediators, and inhibit the phosphorylation of MAPKs to treat the chronic itch.

Background: The stems of Tinospora sinensis (Lour.) Merr commonly named "Kuan-Jin-Teng" in Chinese, have been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis as a Tibetan medicine.Purpose: The effects of the EtOAc fraction of ethanolic extract from the stems of T. sinensis (KJT) on the pro-inflammatory cytokines and MAPK pathway were studied in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model.Study Design: Anti-arthritic activity of KJT was investigated in CIA model.Methods: The chemical constituents of KJT were analyzed by LC-MS and HPLC. The CIA model was established with injecting the bovine CII emulsified in Freund's adjuvant in Wistar rats. Several doses of KJT (50.0, 100.0 and 200.0 mg/kg) were administrated via oral gavage to CIA rats daily for 4 weeks. The anti-arthritic activity of KJT was investigated by clinical arthritis scoring, paw swelling inspection and hyperalgesia measurement, as well as radiological and histological analysis in CIA rats. The impacts of KJT on the activation of MAPK pathway, production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-17) in ankle joints, serum, and spleen in CIA rats were examined by western blot, immunohistochemical staining, ELISA, and quantitative real-time PCR respectively. Lastly, the effects of KJT on production of the nitric oxide (NO) and pro-inflammatory cytokines as well as the regulation of the phosphorylation of p38 and Erk were detected in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW264.7 murine macrophage cells.Results: KJT significantly alleviated the paw swelling, hyperalgesia and arthritic severity, and reduced the synovial tissue proliferation and inflammatory cell infiltration in the CIA rats. Moreover, KJT suppressed the production of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-17 in ankle joints, serum, and spleen and reversed the up-regulation of the phosphorylation of p38 and Erk in CIA rats. KJT was also demonstrated to inhibit the production of NO and pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6), and phosphorylation of p38 and Erk in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 cells.Conclusion: These results suggest the mechanisms of KJT performing its anti-arthritis effect may be attributed to inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and down-regulating the MAPK signaling pathway.