Radix Clematidis (RC) is the roots and rhizomes of Clematis chinensis Osbeck, which has potent effects for expelling wind and dispelling dampness. Processing RC with yellow wine is a traditional processing method. This study aimed to investigate thermal and yellow wine processing influences on potential effective components of RC and its anti-rheumatoid arthritis enhancement mechanisms. Different thermal and wine processing were adopted to get different RC samples. Scanning electron microscope and mercury intrusion porosimetry were used to measure fractal parameters of pore structure. Based on ultra performance liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-QTOF/MS), main constituents were identified and quantified. Besides, the correlation between fractal parameters and main constituents was investigated. The anti-rheumatoid arthritis effect was researched in adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA) rats. The levels of inflammatory cytokine were determined with ELISA kits. Non-targeted serum metabolomics was performed with UPLC-QTOF/MS. 35 compounds were identified in RC, mainly triterpenoid saponins, also including organic acids and lignanoids. The extraction yield of four active triterpenoid saponins significantly increased because looser tissue and wider pore size distribution. Fractal dimension and total surface area significantly increased while total porosity and total volume decreased. In AIA rats, thermal and wine processed RC could markedly inhibit inflammatory cytokines IL-6, IL-1β, TNF-α, and VEGF. Besides, tryptophan and lipid metabolism disorders were ameliorated. Thermal and yellow wine treatments engendered complex pore structure to increase the contents of four active triterpenoid saponins of RC, leading to greater anti-rheumatoid arthritis efficacy.
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