The use of biologically active compounds derived from plants i.e. phytochemicals, have been known for ages for their pharmacological activities in the treatment of autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Besides enormous scientific evidence, the therapeutic potential of phytochemicals is often undervalued. The treatment in RA involves the use of synthetic and biological disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). However, the long-term treatment in RA is associated with the risk of gastrointestinal, liver, pulmonary and renal toxicities and serious infections including latent tuberculosis, pneumococcus influenza, herpes zoster and hepatitis. These adverse effects sometimes lead to discontinuation of the therapy. A relatively new vision based on the combination of DMARDs with phytochemicals exhibiting anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, anti-oxidant, hepatoprotective and nephroprotective properties for the treatment of RA has achieved substantial importance in the last decade. From this perspective, the present review focuses on the combination of DMARDs (primarily MTX) with phytochemicals that have shown synergistic therapeutic effects while decreasing the toxic repercussions of current RA therapy. The review covers recent evidences of such combination studies that have shown promising results both in experimental arthritic models and clinical arthritis. Few of the combinations including resveratrol, sinomenine, coenzyme Q10 exhibited considerable interest because of their efficacy as an adjuvant to the MTX/standard DMARDs therapy in clinical trials. Besides giving an overview of such combination studies the review also critically discusses the limitations with the use of phytochemicals (e.g. solubility, permeability and bioavailability) compromising their clinical application. Additionally, it stresses upon the need of novel delivery systems and pharmaceutical technologies to increase the therapeutic efficacy of the combination therapy. Overall, the review unveils the potential of phytochemicals in combination with DMARDs with increased tolerability and superior efficacy in further refining the future of the RA therapy.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.