Despite granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (GCSF) is widely used in clinical, cancer chemotherapy induced neutropenia (CCIN) infection and infection-related mortality is high for lack of functionally mature neutrophils. Generating functional neutrophils is new therapeutic approaches to reduce CCIN-associated infection and mortality. Saikosaponin a (SSA) is one of the major bioactive components of Radix Bupleuri (RB) and exerts immunoregulatory effects.
The present study aims to investigate the efficacy and mechanism of SSA in CCIN therapy.
SSA was applied both in vitro and in vivo to assess the efficacy of CCIN therapy. The differentiation of neutrophils was measured by Nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT) reduction assay and Giemsa staining assay. The neutrophil differentiation related real-time transcription factors were detected by quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) and Western Blot. Bacteria killing assay was used to assess the ability of fighting infection. Network pharmacology was employed to explore the mechanism network, and the predicted pathways were validated by Western Blot.
We found that SSA contributed to generate functional mature neutrophils which capable of fighting infection both in vitro and in vivo. Network pharmacology prediction showed 55 pathways were predicted involved in SSA against CCIN. Further validation showed that CBL-ERK1/2 pathway was activated by SSA, which could upregulate PU.1 and CEBPβ expression leading to neutrophil differentiation.
Our findings suggest a natural regimen SSA regenerates microbicidal neutrophils to effectively reduce CCIN-associated infection via activating CBL-ERK1/2 pathway, providing a rationale for future therapeutic approaches.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier GmbH.