1. Effects of anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic herbal extracts on gene expression of eicosanoids signaling pathways in isolated brain cell. Introduction: The adaptogens modulate expression of genes playing key roles in development of aging-related disorders, which are considered as low-grade systemic inflammatory conditions characterized by an imbalance between pro-and anti-inflammatory eicosanoids.Aim of the Study: We compared the effects of anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic plant extracts on the expression of genes involved in biosynthesis of eicosanoids with the purpose to find those plants, which selectively upregulated the expression of anti-inflammatory lipoxins signaling pathways and inhibited pro-inflammatory signaling pathways associated with biosynthesis of leukotrienes, prostaglandins and thromboxanes. Materials and Methods: We conducted transcriptome-wide RNA sequencing to profile gene expression alterations in T98G neuroglia cells upon treatment of plant extract and analyzed the relevance of deregulated genes to eicosanoids signaling pathways using in silico models. Results: For the first time, we demonstrated that Rhodiola rosea, Withania somnifera and Eleutherococcus senticosus downregulate the expression of key genes (ALOX5AP, DPEP2, LTC4S) involved biosynthesis of leukotrienes A, B, C, D and E, resulting in inhibition of leukotriene signaling pathway suggesting their potential benefits in Alzheimer disease. The common feature for all tested anti-inflammatory plants extracts was related to downregulation of ALOX12, which was also associated with neuroprotective action of these medicinal plants as well as their potential benefits in neurodegenerative diseases. None of tested anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic plants selectively activated the ALOX15-mediated signaling pathway, which is associated with generation anti-inflammatory lipoxins. Almost all tested plants upregulated the expression of the prostaglandin E receptor 3 gene(PTGER3) suggesting their potential benefits in the treatment of cancer. Conclusion: Every single plant tested in this study revealed a specific “signature” on eicosanoid signaling-related gene expression, regardless of their common features as anti-inflammatory or adaptogenic activity. Further studies of the combination of Rhodiola with Withania (Adaptra) for the treatment of Alzheimer disease are required. [Panossian,A, Seo EJ, Efferth T. Effects of anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic herbal extracts on gene expression of eicosanoids signaling pathways in isolated brain cells. Phytomedicine 60 March 2019;]

2. Curcumin downregulates expression of opioid-related nociception receptor gene (OPRL1) in isolated neuroglia cells.Background: Curcumin (CC) exerts polyvalent pharmacological actions and multi-target effects, including pain relief and anti-nociceptive activity. In combination with Boswellia serrata extract (BS), curcumin shows greater efficacy in knee osteoarthritis management, presumably due to synergistic interaction of the ingredients. Aim: To elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying the analgesic activity of curcumin and its synergistic interaction with BS. Methods: We performed gene expression profiling by transcriptome-wide mRNA sequencing in human T98G neuroglia cells treated with CC (Curamed®), BS, and the combination of CC and BS (CC-BS; Curamin®), followed by interactive pathways analysis of the regulated genes. Results: Treatment with CC and with CC-BS selectively downregulated opioid-related nociceptin receptor 1 gene (OPRL1) expression by 5.9-fold and 7.2-fold, respectively. No changes were detected in the other canonical opioid receptor genes: OPRK1, OPRD1, and OPRM1. Nociceptin reportedly increases the sensation of pain in supra-spinal pain transduction pathways. Thus, CC and CC-BS may downregulate OPRL1, consequently inhibiting production of the nociception receptor NOP, leading to pain relief. In neuroglia cells, CC and CC-BS inhibited signaling pathways related to opioids, neuropathic pain, neuroinflammation, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid diseases. CC and CC-BS also downregulated ADAM metallopeptidase gene ADAMTS5 expression by 11.2-fold and 13.5-fold, respectively. ADAMTS5 encodes a peptidase that plays a crucial role in osteoarthritis development via inhibition of a corresponding signaling pathway. Conclusion: Here, we report for the first time that CC and CC-BS act as nociceptin receptor antagonists, selectively downregulating opioid-related nociceptin receptor 1 gene (OPRL1) expression, which is associated with pain relief. BS alone did not affect OPRL1 expression, but rather appears to potentiate the effects of CC via multiple mechanisms, including synergistic interactions of molecular networks. [Seo EJ, Efferth T, Panossian A. Curcumin downregulates expression of opioid-related nociception receptor gene (OPRL1) in isolated neuroglia cells. Phytomedicine. 20 September 2018;]

3. Novel molecular mechanisms for the adaptogenic effects of herbal extracts on isolated brain cells using systems biology.Introduction: Adaptogens are natural compounds or plant extracts that increase adaptability and survival of organisms under stress. Adaptogens stimulate cellular and organismal defense systems by activating intracellular and extracellular signaling pathways and expression of stress-activated proteins and neuropeptides. The effects adaptogens on mediators of adaptive stress response and longevity signaling pathways have been reported, but their stress-protective mechanisms are still not fully understood. Aim of the Study: The aim of this study was to identify key molecular mechanisms of adaptogenic plants traditionally used to treat stress and aging-related disorders, i.e., Rhodiola rosea, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Withania somnifera, Rhaponticum carthamoides, and Bryonia alba. Materials and Methods: To investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms of adaptogens, we conducted RNA sequencing to profile gene expression alterations in T98G neuroglia cells upon treatment of adaptogens and analyzed the relevance of deregulated genes to adaptive stress-response signaling pathways using in silico pathway analysis software. Results and Discussion: At least 88 of the 3516 genes regulated by adaptogens were closely associated with adaptive stress response and adaptive stress-response signaling pathways (ASRSPs), including neuronal signaling related to corticotropin-releasing hormone, cAMP-mediated, protein kinase A, and CREB; pathways related to signaling involving CXCR4, melatonin, nitric oxide synthase, GP6, G?s, MAPK, neuroinflammation, neuropathic pain, opioids, renin–angiotensin, AMPK, calcium, and synapses; and pathways associated with dendritic cell maturation and G-coupled protein receptor–mediated nutrient sensing in enteroendocrine cells. All samples tested showed significant effects on the expression of genes encoding neurohormones CRH, GNRH, UCN, G-protein–coupled and other transmembrane receptors TLR9, PRLR, CHRNE, GP1BA, PLXNA4, a ligand-dependent nuclear receptor RORA, transmembrane channels, transcription regulators FOS, FOXO6, SCX, STAT5A, ZFPM2, ZNF396, ZNF467, protein kinases MAPK10, MAPK13, MERTK, FLT1, PRKCH, ROS1, TTN), phosphatases PTPRD, PTPRR, peptidases, metabolic enzymes, a chaperone (HSPA6), and other proteins, all of which modulate numerous life processes, playing key roles in several canonical pathways involved in defense response and regulation of homeostasis in organisms. It is for the first time we report that the molecular mechanism of actions of melatonin and plant adaptogens are alike, all adaptogens tested activated the melatonin signaling pathway by acting through two G-protein–coupled membrane receptors MT1 and MT2 and upregulation of the ligand-specific nuclear receptor RORA, which plays a role in intellectual disability, neurological disorders, retinopathy, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and cancer, which are common in aging. Furthermore, melatonin activated adaptive signaling pathways and upregulated expression of UCN, GNRH1, TLR9, GP1BA, PLXNA4, CHRM4, GPR19, VIPR2, RORA, STAT5A, ZFPM2, ZNF396, FLT1, MAPK10, MERTK, PRKCH, and TTN, which were commonly regulated by all adaptogens tested. We conclude that melatonin is an adaptation hormone playing an important role in regulation of homeostasis. Adaptogens presumably worked as eustressors (“stress-vaccines”) to activate the cellular adaptive system by inducing the expression of ASRSPs, which then reciprocally protected cells from damage caused by distress. Functional investigation by interactive pathways analysis demonstrated that adaptogens activated ASRSPs associated with stress-induced and aging-related disorders such as chronic inflammation, cardiovascular health, neurodegenerative cognitive impairment, metabolic disorders, and cancer. Conclusions: This study has elucidated the genome-wide effects of several adaptogenic herbal extracts in brain cells culture. These data highlight the consistent activation of ASRSPs by adaptogens in T98G neuroglia cells. The extracts affected many genes playing key roles in modulation of adaptive homeostasis, indicating their ability to modify gene expression to prevent stress-induced and aging-related disorders. Overall, this study provides a comprehensive look at the molecular mechanisms by which adaptogens exerts stress-protective effects. [Panossian A, Seo EJ, Efferth T. Novel molecular mechanisms for the adaptogenic effects of herbal extracts on isolated brain cells using system biology. Phytomedicine. 17 Sep 2018;50:257-284.]

4. Novel evidence for curcumin and boswellic acid induced chemoprevention through regulation of miR-34a and miR-27a in colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common causes of cancer-associated mortality worldwide, but it is truly a preventable disease. Both curcumin and boswellic acids are well-established dietary botanicals with potent anti-tumorigenic properties which have been shown to modulate multiple oncogenic pathways. Recent data suggest that the chemopreventive effects of these botanicals may in part be mediated through regulation of key cancer-related microRNAs (miRNAs) and their downstream gene targets. Here, we investigated the anti-tumorigenic effects of curcumin and 3 acetyl-11-keto-?-boswellic acid (AKBA) on modulation of specific cancer-related miRNAs in CRC cells and validated their protective effects in vivo using a xenograft mouse model. Both curcumin and AKBA inhibited cellular proliferation, induced apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in CRC cell lines, and these effects were significantly enhanced with combined treatment. Gene-expression arrays revealed that curcumin and AKBA regulated distinct cancer signaling pathways including key cell-cycle regulatory genes. Combined bioinformatics and in-silico analysis identified apoptosis, proliferation and cell-cycle regulatory signaling pathways as key modulators of curcumin and AKBA-induced anti-cancer effects. We discovered that curcumin and AKBA induced upregulation of tumor-suppressive miR-34a and downregulation of miR-27a in CRC cells. Furthermore, we demonstrated in a mouse xenograft model that both curcumin and AKBA treatments suppressed tumor growth, which corresponded with alterations in the expression of miR-34a and miR-27a, consistent with our in vitro findings. Herein we provide novel mechanistic evidence for the chemopreventive effects of curcumin and AKBA through regulation of specific miRNAs in colorectal cancer. [Toden S, Okugawa Y, Buhrmann C, Nattamai D, Anguiano E, Baldwin N, Shakibaei M, Boland CR, Goel A. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2015 Feb 23.]

5. The Effect of Exercise and Nutritional Supplementation on Proinflammatory Cytokine Expression in Young Racehorses During Training.The inflammatory response to vigorous exercise ranges from the mild symptoms of delayed-onset muscle soreness to debilitating injuries affecting soft tissue, joint, and bone. Although there is a great deal of information available on the inflammatory response to exercise in human athletes, less information is available regarding the inflammatory response to exercise in young horses undergoing training for racing careers. Here, we assessed the cytokine response to exercise in a group of young Thoroughbred racehorses during their initial training. Because there is interest in nonpharcacologic approaches to control or ameliorate exercise-induced inflammation, we also examined the anti-inflammatory effect of a nutritional supplement fed to half of the horses undergoing training. Twenty-five Thoroughbred horses aged 2 years were followed through their initial race training. Peripheral blood samples were collected at various times during the exercise for the quantitation of lactic acid, oxidative stress, and inflammatory cytokine gene expression. There was an intensity-dependent effect of exercise on lactate, malondialdehyde, and proinflammatory cytokine gene expression. Although training itself was associated with an overall reduction in inflammatory markers, horses receiving the supplement exhibited further reduction in their indicators of inflammation. As such, this study provides novel evidence of nutritional supplementation reducing postexercise inflammation. [Horohov D, Sinatra S, Chopra R, Jankowitz S, Betancourt A, Bloomer R. The Effect of Exercise and Nutritional Supplementation on Proinflammatory Cytokine Expression in Young Racehorses During Training. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science (2012) 1-11.]

6. Clinical Evaluation of an Herbal Formulation, Rhulief®, in the management of knee osteoarthritis.54 subjects were screened, 30 got enrolled and 28 completed the study. The demographics and baseline characteristics of the two treatment groups were comparable.Joint pain is measured by querying the patient and scoring it as no/mild/moderate/severe during each visit. There was significant improvement in pain scores within the groups I and II over a period of 12 weeks, but there was no significant difference between the groups. At baseline 85.71% of the subjects were in moderate/severe category group I and 78.57% in group II. At the end of the study, only 21.43% subjects in group I were in moderate/severe category, whereas 50% in group II were still in the moderate/severe category. Walking distance refers to the maximum distance a person is able to walk at a stretch without limiting pain and was recorded at each visit. Statistically significant improvement in % individuals scoring walking distance more than 1000 meters was seen within both groups over a period of 12 weeks. In group I, 92.86% of subjects could walk >1000m compared to 85.71% in group II after treatment. Joint line tenderness was elicited by palpating along the joint line and was measured by querying the patient and recording the response as no/mild/moderate/severe. Significant improvements were seen in both groups. The % of patients in category moderate/severe decreased from 85.71 to 7.14 in group I over a period of 12 weeks, whereas in group II, it came down from 78.57 to 21.43. It showed that 92.85% of the patients in group I had improvement or has no joint line tenderness as compared to 78.57% in group II. Significant improvement in crepitus and range of movements were seen within both groups. The other parameters studied, namely, joint swelling, warmth of joint, gait and thigh measurements were not affected by any of the drugs. The safety of the test drug was evaluated by measuring vital signs (systolic and diastolic blood pressure, pulse rate, respiratory rate), haemogram (TC, DC, ESR), liver function tests (blood urea, serum creatinine). None of these parameters were adversely modified by Rhulief®. [Kizhakkedath R, Antony B, Benny M, Kuruvilla BT. Clinical Evaluation of an Herbal Formulation, Rhulief®, in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Vol. 19 Supplement 1, Pages S145-S146]