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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 Jul 2023 - 4 Aug 2023

2023 Jul 05

Life (Basel)




Triterpenes as Potential Drug Candidates for Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment.


Faustino C, Pinheiro L, Duarte N


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease characterized by joint inflammation, swelling and pain. Although RA mainly affects the joints, the disease can also have systemic implications. The presence of autoantibodies, such as anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies and rheumatoid factors, is a hallmark of the disease. RA is a significant cause of disability worldwide associated with advancing age, genetic predisposition, infectious agents, obesity and smoking, among other risk factors. Currently, RA treatment depends on anti-inflammatory and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs intended to reduce joint inflammation and chronic pain, preventing or slowing down joint damage and disease progression. However, these drugs are associated with severe side effects upon long-term use, including immunosuppression and development of opportunistic infections. Natural products, namely triterpenes with anti-inflammatory properties, have shown relevant anti-arthritic activity in several animal models of RA without undesirable side effects. Therefore, this review covers the recent studies (2017-2022) on triterpenes as safe and promising drug candidates for the treatment of RA. These bioactive compounds were able to produce a reduction in several RA activity indices and immunological markers. Celastrol, betulinic acid, nimbolide and some ginsenosides stand out as the most relevant drug candidates for RA treatment.