Immunologic Research

, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 406–413 | Cite as

Effects of crocin on inflammatory activities in human fibroblast-like synoviocytes and collagen-induced arthritis in mice

  • Longjie Li
  • Haiseng Zhang
  • Shengli Jin
  • Chang LiuEmail author
Original Article


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disease, characterized by the irreversible joint destruction resulted from the attack of inflammatory cells to the joints. Recent studies demonstrated that crocin is able to alleviate arthritis and suppress inflammatory responses, implying crocin as a potential promising antiarthritic agent. In this study, we confirmed the effect of crocin on RA and revealed its underlying mechanism by measuring lipopolysaccharides (LPS)-stimulated cytokine production in presence or absence of crocin. The effect of crocin was also tested in vivo using a mouse model of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). It was found that crocin significantly repressed the LPS-induced expression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-1β, and IL-6 in human fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS). We tested the effect of crocin on nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) signaling and observed that cells pre-treated with 500 μM of crocin exhibited lower levels of LPS-induced p-IκBα, p-IκB kinase (IKK) α/β, and p65 expression than those of untreated cells. In addition, we found when cells were stimulated with IKKβ, crocin pre-treatment showed significantly inhibitory effect on the luciferase activity of IL-1β. In vivo results also showed that crocin treatment dramatically reduced plasma levels of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 in CIA mice. Crocin is efficient to suppress the productions of TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-1β by blocking NF-κB signal activation through its interaction with IKK, suggesting that crocin could be an efficient treatment for RA.


Crocin Rheumatoid arthritis Nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) Collagen-induced arthritis IκB kinase (IKK) 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Informed consent

Informed consent is not applicable in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Longjie Li
    • 1
  • Haiseng Zhang
    • 1
  • Shengli Jin
    • 2
  • Chang Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Sports MedicineThe Cangzhou City Central HospitalCangzhou CityChina
  2. 2.Department of OrthopedicsThe Cangzhou City Central HospitalCangzhou CityChina

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