Fructus Arctii is the dried ripe fruit of Arctium lappa L. (family Asteraceae). It is a well-known Chinese Materia Medica that was included in the Chinese pharmacopoeia because of its traditional therapeutic actions, such as heat removal, detoxification, and elimination of swelling. Since ancient times Fructus Arctii has been used extensively in a number of classical drug formulas to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. Modern pharmacological studies have shown that certain components of Fructus Arctii have multiple physiological activities on type 2 diabetes and its complications.
We have reported the inhibitory effect of total lignans from Fructus Arctii (TLFA) on aldose reductase, the key enzyme in the polyol pathway, which is considered to be closely related to the onset of diabetic retinopathy (DR). The present study aimed to observe the preventive and therapeutic effects of TLFA on DR in Streptozotocin (STZ)-induced DR rats.
TLFA was prepared from Fructus Arctii and its content was determined using UV spectrophotometry. The DR model was induced by STZ in Wistar rats. For DR prevention, the animals were gavaged once daily for 9 weeks with TLFA (1.38, 0.69, and 0.35 g/kg/day) as soon as they were confirmed as diabetes models. Pathological changes to retinal tissues and the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and protein kinase C (PKC) in the retina were detected after TLFA treatment. The effects of TLFA on blood glucose levels and body weight were also observed. For DR treatment, the animals were gavaged once daily for 12 weeks with TLFA (1.38 and 0.69 g/kg/day) at 3 months after they were confirmed as diabetes models. The therapeutic effect was studied using quantitative detection of blood-retina barrier (BRB) breakdown via an Evans Blue leakage assay.
For DR prevention, after 9 weeks of TLFA administration, histopathological examination of retinal tissue showed that TLFA improved the lesions in the retina. Changes to retinal microstructures such as capillaries, ganglion cells, bipolar cells, and the membrane disk examined by electron microscopy further confirmed that TLFA has a preventive effect on retinopathy. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl Transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) detection showed that TLFA could inhibit retinal cell apoptosis in the diabetic rats, and fasting blood glucose (FBG) levels of rats in the TLFA-treated groups decreased during the experiment. For DR treatment, after 3 months of administration, the amount of dye leakage in the TLFA-administered groups was reduced by more than 50% compared with that in the model group, which indicated that TLFA has a therapeutic effect on middle and late DR. Messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of VEGF and PKCβ2 in the retina detected by real-time fluorescent quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (FQ-RT-PCR) showed that TLFA could inhibit the expression of them, which was consistent with the results of immunohistochemistry (IHC).
TLFA has a preventive and therapeutic effect on DR. Its mechanism of action on DR is related to inhibiting PKC activation and blocking VEGF elevation.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.