Vitexin alleviates ER-stress-activated apoptosis and the related inflammation in chondrocytes and inhibits the degeneration of cartilage in rats
Excessive extracellular matrix degradation and chondrocyte apoptosis are the pathological features of osteoarthritis (OA). The ability of flavonoid compounds isolated from Chinese hawthorn leaves to exert protective effects on several diseases, via inhibition of oxidative stress and inflammation, has been demonstrated in several studies. This study explored the effects of vitexin on chondrocytes, and the underlying mechanisms thereof. Vitexin, an active ingredient in hawthorn leaf extracts, was shown to exert protective effects on chondrocytes, by inhibiting the expression of GRP78 and PDI, and an apoptotic protein (CHOP) induced by interleukin-1β. It also modulated thapsigargin-induced upregulation of GRP78 and PDI and subsequently an apoptotic protein (CHOP). Among rat chondrocytes, both the ER stress-activated nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) pathway and the induced expression of inflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and TNF-α) were significantly inhibited by vitexin. Finally, vitexin attenuated the progression of OA in vivo in rats. Taken together, all data demonstrate the relationship of ER stress and inflammation in the progression of OA, the ability of vitexin to protect chondrocytes and thus its therapeutic potential in patients with OA.