Background: Pancreatic fibrosis is a prominent histopathological characteristic of chronic pancreatitis and plausibly a dynamic process of transition to the development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Conversely, the activation of pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) has been recently suggested as the key initiating step in pancreatic fibrosis. As natural polyphenols had been largely applied in complementary therapies in the past decade, in this study, we aimed to investigate which groups of phenolic compounds exert promising inhibitory actions on fibrogenesis as there are few effective strategies for the treatment of pancreatic fibrosis to date. Methods: We examined the anti-fibrotic effects of a variety of herbal constituents using a cellular platform, the LTC-14 cells, which retained essential characteristics and morphologies of primary PSCs, by means of various biochemical assays including cell viability test, real-time polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting analysis. Results: Among a number of commonly used herbal constituents, we found that the application of rhein, emodin, curcumin and resveratrol significantly suppressed the mRNA and protein levels of several fibrotic mediators namely alpha-smooth muscle actin, type I collagen and fibronectin in LTC-14 cells against transforming growth factor-beta stimulation. Though the values of cytotoxicity varied, the mechanism of the anti-fibrotic action of these four phenolic compounds was principally associated with a decrease in the activation of the nuclear factor-kappaB signaling pathway. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the mentioned phenolic compounds may serve as anti-fibrotic agents in PSC-relating disorders and pathologies, particularly pancreatic fibrosis.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Complementary and alternative medicine
- Pancreatic fibrosis
- Pancreatic stellate cells