Directed self-assembly of herbal small molecules into sustained release hydrogels for treating neural inflammation

Abstract

Self-assembling natural drug hydrogels formed without structural modification and able to act as carriers are of interest for biomedical applications. A lack of knowledge about natural drug gels limits there current application. Here, we report on rhein, a herbal natural product, which is directly self-assembled into hydrogels through noncovalent interactions. This hydrogel shows excellent stability, sustained release and reversible stimuli-responses. The hydrogel consists of a three-dimensional nanofiber network that prevents premature degradation. Moreover, it easily enters cells and binds to toll-like receptor 4. This enables rhein hydrogels to significantly dephosphorylate IκBα, inhibiting the nuclear translocation of p65 at the NFκB signalling pathway in lipopolysaccharide-induced BV2 microglia. Subsequently, rhein hydrogels alleviate neuroinflammation with a long-lasting effect and little cytotoxicity compared to the equivalent free-drug in vitro. This study highlights a direct self-assembly hydrogel from natural small molecule as a promising neuroinflammatory therapy.

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Reference:

Zheng J, Fan R, Wu H, Yao H, Yan Y, Liu J, Ran L, Sun Z, Yi L, Dang L, Gan P, Zheng P, Yang T, Zhang Y, Tang T, Wang Y. Directed self-assembly of herbal small molecules into sustained release hydrogels for treating neural inflammation. Nat Commun. 2019 Apr 8;10(1):1604. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09601-3. PubMed PMID: 30962431; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6453967.



Keywords: directed self-assembly, herbal small molecules, sustained release hydrogels, treating neural inflammation, neuroinflammation, BV2 microglia, IκBα, nuclear translocation of p65, NFκB signalling pathway, toll-like receptor 4, nanofibers, natural products, rhein, #inflammation, #nanotechnology.

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