Paeonol is a key phenolic compound in the root bark of Moutan Cortex Radicis that has been used in traditional Chinese Medicine to ameliorate inflammation. A series of aminothiazole-paeonol derivatives (APDs) were synthesized in this work and subjected to preliminary evaluation in cells followed by verification in animals. Quantification of monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in culture media of LPS-activated A549 cells, a lung epithelial adenocarcinoma cell line, were used to investigate the anti-inflammatory capability of APDs. ALI-bearing rats were employed to verify therapeutic efficacy of APDs according to observations of total cells, protein amounts, MCP-1 and IL-6 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Histopathological examinations of lung tissues were consequently applied for validation of APDs. Among these compounds, 2-(2-aminothiazol-4-yl)-5-methoxyphenol (4) had the most potent activity, showing comparable inhibition of MCP-1/IL-6 and superior elimination of neutrophil infiltration and protein exudation in lungs compared to others as well as dexamethasone. This study demonstrated a comprehensive strategy to evaluate APDs through integration of cell-based screening and animal-based verification. In order to fulfill unmet needs of treating acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), APDs introduced in this work could be promising lead compounds to develop high potent anti-inflammation agents.
Keywords: Moutan Cortex Radicis; acute lung injury; acute respiratory distress syndrome; aminothiazole-paeonol derivatives; anti-inflammation agents; paeonol.