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Network analysis, in vivo, and in vitro experiments identified the mechanisms by which Piper longum L. [Piperaceae] alleviates cartilage destruction, joint inflammation, and arthritic pain

  • Jo, Hee Geun1, 2
  • Baek, Chae Yun1
  • Kim, Donghwan3
  • Kim, Sangjin4
  • Han, Yewon4
  • Park, Chanlim5
  • Song, Ho Sueb1
  • Lee, Donghun1
  • 1 Gachon University, Seongnam-si
  • 2 Naturalis Inc., Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do
  • 3 Kyung Hee University, Seoul
  • 4 National Institute for Korean Medicine Development, Gyeongsan-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • 5 Smart Software Lab Inc., Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do
Published Article
Frontiers in Pharmacology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Jan 24, 2024
DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2023.1282943
  • Pharmacology
  • Original Research


Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by irreversible joint destruction, pain, and dysfunction. Piper longum L. [Piperaceae] (PL) is an East Asian herbal medicine with reported anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, anti-stress, and anti-osteoporotic effects. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of PL in inhibiting pain and progressive joint destruction in OA based on its anti-inflammatory activity, and to explore its potential mechanisms using in vivo and in vitro models of OA. We predicted the potential hub targets and signaling pathways of PL through network analysis and molecular docking. Network analysis results showed that the possible hub targets of PL against OA were F2R, F3, MMP1, MMP2, MMP9, and PTGS2. The molecular docking results predicted strong binding affinities for the core compounds in PL: piperlongumine, piperlonguminine, and piperine. In vitro experiments showed that PL inhibited the expression of LPS-induced pro-inflammatory factors, such as F2R, F3, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-17A, MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-9, MMP-13, NOS2, PTGS2, PGE2, and TNF-β. These mechanisms and effects were dose-dependent in vivo models. Furthermore, PL inhibited cartilage degradation in an OA-induced rat model. Thus, this study demonstrated that multiple components of PL may inhibit the multilayered pathology of OA by acting on multiple targets and pathways. These findings highlight the potential of PL as a disease-modifying OA drug candidate, which warrants further investigation.

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