Triptolide, a novel immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory agent purified from a Chinese herb Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F.
Triptolide is a diterpenoid triepoxide purified from a Chinese herb Tripterygium Wilfordii Hook F (TWHF). TWHF has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than two thousand years. However, its potential value was recognized by the western medicine only after investigators observed the effectiveness of TWHF in the treatment of leprosy and rheumatoid arthritis. Triptolide has been identified as the major component responsible for the immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory effects of TWHF. Triptolide inhibits both Ca(2+)-dependent and Ca(2+)-independent pathways and affects T cell activation through inhibition of interleukin-2 transcription at a site different from the target of cyclosporin A. Triptolide also has inhibitory effects on a variety of proinflammatory cytokines and mediators and on the expression of adhesion molecules by endothelial cells. Triptolide is effective for the treatment of a variety of autoimmune diseases and in prevention of allograft rejection and graft-versus-host disease in both animals and humans. Moreover, triptolide possesses antitumor and male anti-fertility effect. However, the toxicities of triptolide may be associated with renal, cardiac, hematopoietic and reproductive systems. Currently available data suggest that triptolide is a promising immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory agent and should be explored further in autoimmune diseases and transplantation.
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