Xylopic acid (XA), a diterpene kaurene and the major active ingredient of the African spice Xylopia aethiopica (Annonaceae), is reported to possess anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Here, we investigated the therapeutic potential of XA for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a debilitating autoimmune inflammatory disease characterized by joint damage, in the complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA)-induced arthritis model in rats. We synthesized bioinspired reconstituted high-density lipoprotein (rHDL) nanoparticles loaded with purified XA crystals (rHDL/XA) that passively accumulate in inflamed joints of CFA-induced arthritic rats. Treatment with rHDL/XA minimized mononuclear cell infiltration of CFA-induced arthritic sites and ameliorated disease burden. Metabolomic and transcriptomic analyses revealed that the major molecular pathways perturbed following CFA-induced arthritis correlated with amino acid and lipid metabolism, which were restored to normal states by rHDL/XA treatment. This work demonstrates the anti-RA potential of XA in a nanoformulation and uncovers its underlying therapeutic mechanisms at the transcript and metabolite levels.
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