Neferine alleviates ovalbumin-induced asthma via MAPK signaling pathways in mice

Main Article Content

Tonggang Zhu
Xue Xiao
Yufu Dong
Chengbo Yuan


airway resistance, asthma, lung injury, MAPK pathways, neferine


Purpose: To investigate the role of neferine in ovalbumin (OVA)-induced asthma, and to reveal the possible mechanism.

Methods: In OVA-induced asthmatic mice, enzyme-linked-immunosorbent serologic assay was performed to evaluate the level of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, IL-13, immunoglobulin E (IgE) in serum and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), IL-6, IL-1β, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Eosinophil, neutrophil, and lymphocyte counts in BALF were calculated to assess inflammation. The pulmonary function was measured by airway resistance, peak expiratory flow (PEF) and forced expiratory volume/forced vital capacity (FEV0.4/FVC) ratio, and respiratory rate. Hematoxylin and eosin staining and Masson staining were used to evaluate lung injury. Further, Western blot analysis was conducted to detect phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and p38 of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways.

Results: Neferine, 20 mg/kg or 40 mg/kg, could significantly decrease the levels of IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, and IgE in OVA-induced serum, and that of TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β, and MCP-1 in OVA-induced BALF. Moreover, neferine could significantly decline eosinophil, neutrophil, and lymphocyte counts in BALF. Neferine contributed to improve OVA-induced airway resistance, promoted the value of PEF and FEV0.4/FVC ratio, and recovered the respiratory rate. It also reduced mucus secretion, distribution of inflammatory and goblet cells around bronchi, and attenuated collagen deposition in lung tissues. Furthermore, neferine reduced the phosphorylation of p38, JNK, and ERK to inhibit MAPK signaling pathways.

Conclusion: Neferine relieves asthma-induced inflammatory reaction, airway resistance, and lung injury by inhibiting MAPK signaling pathways. This could serve neferine as a novel therapeutic candidate for treating asthma.

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