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The Role of Natural Compounds in Autoimmune Diseases

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643). This special issue belongs to the section "Phytochemicals and Human Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2024) | Viewed by 2635

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Centre of Experimental Medicine, Institute of Experimental Pharmacology and Toxicology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská Cesta 5826/9, SK-841 41 Bratislava, Slovakia
Interests: natural products; pharmacology; immunology; rheumatoid arthritis; medicinal plants; antioxidants; biological models; new generations of drug delivery; functional food
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Dear Colleagues,

A series of natural compounds have been implicated to be useful in regulating the pathogenesis of various autoimmune diseases. Diet can influence different stages of inflammation and have an important impact on several inflammatory diseases. Increasing scientific evidence has shown that polyphenolic compounds, such as flavonoids—which are found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, or cocoa—can have anti-inflammatory properties. The prevalence of autoimmune diseases in the world population is approximately 3%, including such serious diseases as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis. Autoimmune diseases occur within different tissues, in which they are mainly auto-reactive and, finally, proliferate in a systemic pathological state. Aside from the complex symptoms of these diseases, their treatments have only been palliative. Recent medical research shows that natural compounds (plant-derived natural compounds such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, terpenoids, etc.) could be promising strategies to fight against these autoimmune diseases. Moreover, novel technologies such as network pharmacology, molecular docking, and high-throughput screening have been gradually applied in natural product development. Many effective natural compounds act via the modulation of multiple proteins rather than single targets. Broad interdisciplinary research is the most promising approach to contribute to the treatment of autoimmune disease. Anti-inflammatory diets may be promoted for these inflammatory autoimmune conditions. They include several foods that are believed to interfere with the inflammatory process, though research on their exact mechanism is not conclusive; thus, further research is needed to elucidate how these diets could be beneficial for patients suffering from autoimmune diseases.

Dr. Katarína Bauerová
Guest Editor

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  • autoimmune diseases
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
  • natural compounds
  • network pharmacology
  • molecular docking

Published Papers (1 paper)

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23 pages, 2600 KiB  
Crocus sativus L. Extract (Saffron) Effectively Reduces Arthritic and Inflammatory Parameters in Monotherapy and in Combination with Methotrexate in Adjuvant Arthritis
by Martin Chrastina, František Dráfi, Katarína Pružinská, Silvester Poništ, Kevine Silihe Kamga, Sasan Khademnematolahi, František Bilka, Peter Novák, Ľudmila Pašková and Katarína Bauerová
Nutrients 2023, 15(19), 4108; - 22 Sep 2023
Viewed by 2160
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease, is characterized by inflammation that affects not only the liver but also other organs and the musculoskeletal system. The standard therapy for RA is methotrexate (MTX), which has safety limitations. The extract from Crocus sativus L. (saffron—SF) [...] Read more.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease, is characterized by inflammation that affects not only the liver but also other organs and the musculoskeletal system. The standard therapy for RA is methotrexate (MTX), which has safety limitations. The extract from Crocus sativus L. (saffron—SF) is also known for its anti-inflammatory effects. Therefore, we decided to investigate the potential benefit of SF in monotherapy via two doses (SF1—25 mg/kg of b.w.; SF2—50 mg/kg of b.w.) and in combination with MTX (0.3 mg/kg of b.w., twice a week) using adjuvant arthritis in rats. To evaluate these therapeutic settings, we used biometric, immunological, and biochemical parameters, as well as the relative gene expression of the mRNA in the liver. Our results showed a statistically significant increase in the experimental animals’ body weight and the arthritic score (AS) on day 14 for monotherapy with SF1 and SF2. The change of hind paw volume (CHPV) was significant only for SF2 monotherapy on the 14th day of the experiment. A combination of SF1 and SF2 with MTX significantly modulated all the biometric parameters during the experimental period. Additionally, AS and CHPV improved considerably compared to MTX monotherapy on day 21. Furthermore, all monotherapies and combination therapies were significant for the biochemical parameter γ-glutamyl transferase (GGT) in the joint. GGT activity in the spleen was less pronounced; only MTX in combination with SF1 significantly modified this parameter. The higher dose of SF monotherapy (SF2) was similarly significant with respect to immunological parameters, such as plasmatic IL-17A, IL-1β, and MMP-9 on day 21. The combination of both doses of SF with MTX significantly improved these immunological parameters, except for C-reactive protein (CRP), which was influenced only by the higher dose of SF2 in combination with MTX in plasma at the end of the experiment. A different effect was found for the relative expression of CD36 mRNA, where only SF1 significantly decreased gene expression in the liver. However, the relative gene mRNA expression of IL-1β in the liver was significantly reduced by the SF monotherapies and the combination of both SF doses with MTX. Our findings showed SF’s partial antiarthritic and anti-inflammatory potential in monotherapy, but the effect was stronger in combination with MTX. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Natural Compounds in Autoimmune Diseases)
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