Leonurine Regulates Treg/Th17 Balance to Attenuate Rheumatoid Arthritis Through Inhibition of TAZ Expression

Yan Yi Du, Zhi Xin Chen, Min Ying Liu, Qing Ping Liu, Chang Song Lin, Cong Qiu Chu, Qiang Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Leonurine, an active alkaloid extracted from Herba leonuri, is reported to have potent anti-inflammatory activity against rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the molecular mechanism of action of leonurine in RA remains poorly understood. In this study, we detected 3,425 mRNAs differentially expressed between CD4+ T cells of RA patients and those of healthy individuals using microarray raw data mining. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes enrichment analysis revealed that transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ) regulates a variety of biological processes including T-helper (Th)-17 cell development, and was thus selected for functional verification. In a naïve CD4+ T cell differentiation assay, we found that TAZ overexpression was associated with impaired balance between T regulatory (Treg) and Th17 cells in vitro. TAZ overexpression increased the levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-17, IL-1β, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and decreased that of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. Leonurine treatment had a direct recovery effect on the impaired balance and reduced the expression of TAZ and led to normalization of IL-17, IL-1β, and TNF-α and IL-10. Furthermore, IL-6 was found to promote the expression of TAZ and receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL), and RANK. Leonurine significantly inhibited TAZ-mediated expression of RANKL, and RANK and IL-6 in synovial fibroblasts. We conclude that the therapeutic effect of leonurine was through suppression of TAZ led to restoration of Treg/Th17 balance and suppression of synovial fibroblast action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number556526
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Oct 7 2020


  • TAZ
  • Treg Th17
  • balance
  • leonurine
  • rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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