RL, a traditional remedy for Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), comprises two edible herbs, Rosae Multiflorae Fructus and Lonicerae Japonicae Flos. We have reported that RL could inhibit the production of inflammatory mediators in immune cells. Here we investigated the effects and the mechanism of action of RL in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) rats. RL significantly increased food intake and weight gain of CIA rats without any observable adverse effect; ameliorated joint erythema and swelling; inhibited immune cell infiltration, bone erosion and osteophyte formation in joints; reduced joint protein expression levels of TLR4, phospho-TAK1, phospho-NF-κB p65, phospho-c-Jun and phospho-IRF3; lowered levels of inflammatory factors (TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β, IL-17A and MCP-1 in sera and TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β and IL-17A in joints); elevated serum IL-10 level; reinvigorated activities of antioxidant SOD, CAT and GSH-Px in the liver and serum; reduced Th17 cell proportions in splenocytes; inhibited splenocyte proliferation and activation; and lowered serum IgG level. In conclusion, RL at nontoxic doses inhibited TLR4 signaling and potently improved clinical conditions of CIA rats. These findings provide further pharmacological justifications for the traditional use of RL in RA management.
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