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The Journal of investigative dermatology

Glycyrrhizin Ameliorates Fibrosis, Vasculopathy, and Inflammation in Animal Models of Systemic Sclerosis.


PMID 27777101

Abstract

Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a multisystem inflammatory and vascular disease resulting in extensive tissue fibrosis. Glycyrrhizin, clinically used for chronic hepatic diseases and itching dermatitis, modulates the pathological processes of inflammation, vasculopathy, and fibrosis in human diseases and their animal models. Therefore, we investigated a potential impact of glycyrrhizin on the key pathological manifestations of SSc, including inflammation, vasculopathy, and tissue fibrosis, with bleomycin-treated mice mimicking the fibrotic and inflammatory components of SSc and endothelial cell-specific Fli1-knockout mice recapitulating SSc vasculopathy. Glycyrrhizin significantly ameliorated dermal fibrosis in bleomycin-treated mice, which was partly attributable to blockade of transforming growth factor-β signaling in dermal fibroblasts through the down-regulation of thrombospondin 1, a latent transforming growth factor-β receptor, and transcription factors Smad3 and Ets1. Furthermore, bleomycin-dependent induction of T helper type 2-skewed immune polarization, M2 macrophage infiltration, and endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition were greatly suppressed in mice administered glycyrrhizin. Glycyrrhizin also improved vascular permeability of endothelial cell-specific Fli1-knockout mice by increasing the expression of molecules regulating vascular integrity. These results indicate that glycyrrhizin ameliorates bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis through the inhibition of fibroblast activation, T helper type 2-skewed immune polarization, M2 macrophage infiltration, and endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition and improves endothelial Fli1 deficiency-dependent vascular disintegrity, implying its potential as a disease-modifying drug for SSc.