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An herbal-compound-based combination therapy that relieves cirrhotic ascites by affecting the L-arginine/nitric oxide pathway: A metabolomics-based systematic study

Zhang, Kai, Zhang, Yongtai, Li, Nana, Xing, Feng, Zhao, Jihui, Yang, Tao, Liu, Chenghai, Feng, Nianping
Journal of ethnopharmacology 2019 v.241 pp. 112034
Oriental traditional medicine, arginine, ascites, biochemical pathways, biomarkers, blood serum, carbon tetrachloride, gastrointestinal motility, herbal medicines, histopathology, immunohistochemistry, inducible nitric oxide synthase, intraperitoneal injection, liver cirrhosis, mass spectrometry, mechanism of action, metabolites, neurons, nitric oxide, quantitative analysis, rats, therapeutics, ultra-performance liquid chromatography, urine
Traditional Chinese medicine boasts a 440-year-long history of treating refractory ascites via combinations of herbal medicines, called formulae. Xiaozhang Tie (XT) is a proprietary herbal-compound-based formula that has been proven to be very effective in the treatment of cirrhosis-associated ascites in clinical practice, but the mechanism of action of XT remains unknown.In this study, we used a metabolomics-based systematic method to elucidate the mechanism of XT in the treatment of cirrhotic ascites.Decompensated liver cirrhosis was induced in rats by intraperitoneal injection of Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4). Ultra performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS) combined with pattern recognition approaches were used to determine differentiating metabolites relevant to XT treatment. Biomarkers were further validated by a targeted quantitative method and by the results from serum and urine analyses. Pathway analysis and correlation network construction were used to reveal the therapeutic targets associated with XT treatment, and the potential mechanisms were verified by the results from biochemical, histopathological and immunohistochemical assays.XT synergistically mediated the abnormalities of amino acid metabolic pathways in cirrhotic rats. XT significantly elevated the arginine levels, reduced the serum nitric oxide (NO) levels and alleviated the gastrointestinal motility disorder of cirrhotic rats. This effect of XT has been confirmed by the inhibition of the activities of inducible NO synthase and neuronal NO synthase in the small intestine.These results reveal that XT promotes gastrointestinal motility by acting on multiple targets in multiple pathways, of which the L-arginine/NO pathway is most affected.