Objective: To examine the clinical effects of Yisui Shengxue Granules () in the treatment of β-thalassemia and explore its mechanism on DNA methylation levels.
Methods: A randomized placebo-controlled double-blinded trial was conducted. Forty patients with β-thalassemia were recruited and distributed randomly by envelope method into an experimental group and a control group, 20 patients in each group. The patients were given Yisui Shengxue Granules in the experimental group and placebo in the control group (12 g/bag three times a day) during a 3-month intervention. Before and after 1, 2, and 3 months of treatment, peripheral intravenous blood was sampled, and blood parameters such as hemoglobin (Hb), red blood cells (RBCs), reticulocytes (Ret), and fetal hemoglobin (HbF) were analyzed. Mononuclear cells from 5 patients, who showed an obvious treatment effect, were isolated by density gradient centrifugation. DNA methylation was analyzed using an Affymetrix USA GeneChip Human Promoter 1.0 Array and Input-promoter 1.0.
Results: Compared with pre-treatment, there was an obvious increase in Hb and RBCs counts after 1, 2, and 3 months in the experiment group (P<0.01 or P<0.05). Meanwhile, HbF increased from the 2nd to the 3rd month (P<0.05). In the control group, Hb and RBCs showed no obvioas change. After 3-month treatment, DNA methylation results from 5 patients revealed that there were 24 hypomethylated genes and 3,685 hypermethylated genes compared with pre-treatment. Genes of insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) and Janus kinase 3 (JAK3) revealed the most relations with other genes (degree: 21) and genes of 1-phosphatidylinositol-4, 5-bisphosphate phosphodiesterase gamma 2 (PLCG2) and mitogen-activated protein kinase 10 (MAPK10) showed a stronger intermediary role (betweenness centrality=0.04).
Conclusions: JAK3 and MAPK10 are two key genes in bone marrow and the lymphatic system, and JAK3 is likely to be related to hematopoietic cytokines in the process of early hematopoiesis. (Registration No. NCT01549080).
Keywords: Chinese medicine; DNA-methylation; Yisui Shengxue Granule; β-thalassemia.