Comparative anti-arthritic investigation of iridoid glycosides and crocetin derivatives from Gardenia jasminoides Ellis in Freund's complete adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats

Phytomedicine. 2019 Feb;53:223-233. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2018.07.005. Epub 2018 Jul 25.


Background: Discovering novel compounds with higher activities is a key aim of natural products research. Gardenia jasminoides Ellis is a herb with anti-inflammatory properties. Iridoid glycosides (mainly geniposide) and crocetin derivatives (crocins) are the two major active constituents in this herb and are considered its active ingredients. However, which components are responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of gardenia have remained to be investigated.

Purpose: Here, we prepared total iridoid glycocides (TIG) and total crocins (TC) from G. jasminoides Ellis, determined their main chemical constituents, and performed animal studies to evaluate their anti-adjuvant arthritis activities, thus, proposing a reasonable mechenism to explain the anti-inflammatory activities of the active components in this herbal remedy.

Study design: TIG and TC were prepared by using HPD-100 macroporous resin, and characterized by UHPLC-DAD-MS and UV-Vis spectrophotometer. Then, freund's complete adjuvant-injected rats underwent drug treatments with TIG (160 mg/kg) and TC (160 mg/kg) for 14 days, and their ankle diameters were measured. Moreover, X-ray radiographs of the adjuvant injected hind paws were evaluated. Finally, histopathological examinations of the ankle joints, spleens and thymus were carried out to evaluate inflammatory reactions, and immunohistochemical measurements were conducted to evaluate TNF-α and TGF-β1 expression in the ankle joint of the rats.

Results: The chemical composition determination of the current study showed that TIG was mainly composed of geniposide and TC was a fraction predominantly with crocin-1, crocin-2 and crocin-3. Calculation of results showed that TIG and TC contained 58.2% total iridoid glycosides and 54.7% total crocins, respectively. Our study suggested TIG and TC treatments markedly decreased paw swelling and ankle diameters of AA rats (both p < 0.05). The radiological analysis showed that administration of TIG and TC ameliorated bone destruction, and reduced the radiological bone destruction scores (TIG p < 0.05, TC p>0.05). Moreover, data from histological assessment demonstrated considerable mitigation of inflammation in the joints (both p < 0.01), spleen and thymus of AA rats treated with TIG and TC. TNF-α and TGF-β1 protein expression according to immunohistochemistry staining also supported the anti-arthritis activities of TIG and TC (TNF-α: TIG p < 0.01 and TC p < 0.05, TGF-β1: TIG p < 0.01 and TC p>0.05).

Conclusion: In the current study, fractionation of gardenia prior to further in vivo investigation has for the first time provided reasonable explanation for the anti-inflammatory activity of this herbal remedy. Our study showed that both TIG and TC from gardenia have anti-inflammatory properties. Overall, these experimental findings suggest that gardenia could be regarded as a potential therapeutic target for arthritis. However, as geniposide has a higher content than crocins in this herbal drug, TIG (mainly geniposide) seems to be primarily responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of gardenia. Taken together, this maiden attempt demonstrated that TIG (mainly geniposide) is more important in evaluating the anti-inflammatory activity of G. jasminoides Ellis.

Keywords: Adjuvant arthritic; Anti-inflammatory; Crocetin derivatives; Gardenia jasminoides Ellis; Geniposide; Iridoid glycosides.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Arthritis, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Experimental / metabolism
  • Arthritis, Experimental / pathology
  • Carotenoids / analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Freund's Adjuvant / toxicity
  • Gardenia / chemistry*
  • Iridoid Glycosides / chemistry
  • Iridoid Glycosides / isolation & purification
  • Iridoid Glycosides / pharmacology*
  • Iridoids / analysis
  • Male
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Vitamin A / analogs & derivatives


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Iridoid Glycosides
  • Iridoids
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • trans-sodium crocetinate
  • Vitamin A
  • geniposide
  • Carotenoids
  • crocin
  • Freund's Adjuvant