Pulmonary rehabilitation mixture (PRM), an herbal-based formula used for decades in Chinese traditional medicine, has therapeutic potential against pulmonary fibrosis (PF) progression by targeting several molecular factors known to be involved in fibrotic processes, concludes a new study.
The study, “Pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic assessment of pulmonary rehabilitation mixture for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis,” appeared in the journal Scientific Reports.
PF is a life-threatening condition with few therapeutic possibilities. To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved only two: Ofev (nintedanib) and Esbriet (pirfenidone). Despite the positive effects these therapies can provide to patients, they do not cure the condition, and in more severe cases only a lung transplant can improve the patient’s quality of life.
In recent years, interest in Chinese herbal and natural recipes to treat several illnesses has soared. PRM, also known as Fei-Fu-Kang, has been used for decades to treat PF and lung cancer. It consists of eight herbs: Astragali Radix, Codonopsis Radix, Ophiopogonis Radix, Schisandrae Chinensis Fructus, Notoginseng Radix et Rhizoma, Fritillariae Thunbergii Bulbus, Anemarrhenae Rhizoma and Glycyrrhizae Radix et Rhizoma. These components have known anti-tumor activity and can stimulate an immune response, among other activities with pharmacological potential.
Previous studies in preclinical mice models of acute lung injury shows that PRM treatment alleviates signs of lung tissue swelling. With that in mind, researchers from China’s Binzhou Medical University wanted to address PRM’s potential effects and its underlying therapeutic mechanism of action in PF.
They found that ], in several experimental human cells line models, PRM attenuated both the epithelial-mesenchymal and endothelial-mesenchymal transitions — two cellular mechanisms known to happen in PF development.
This positive effect wasn’t restricted only to in vitro experiments with cells. Researchers also showed that animal models of PF receiving PRM also showed reduced signs of fibrosis. In addition, the activity of PRM components was found to reduce the levels of FGF-2, PDGF-BB, TLR-4, HMGB1, and HIF-1α — all known participants in the underlying mechanisms of PF.
Authors concluded that the blood can absorb PRM’s chemical components after oral administration. This, combined with PRM’s demonstrated therapeutic potential to treat PF in vivo, supports its further testing as a multi-target therapy for pulmonary fibrosis.