How Niuhuang Jiedu Prescription Reduces Harmful Effects of Realgar on DNA

Jim Crocker
7th June, 2024

How Niuhuang Jiedu Prescription Reduces Harmful Effects of Realgar on DNA

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine explored whether Niuhuang Jiedu (NHJD) could reduce the genotoxic effects of realgar in mice
  • NHJD significantly decreased DNA damage, sperm abnormalities, and micronucleated cells caused by realgar
  • NHJD and its components enhanced arsenic methylation, reducing inorganic arsenic levels and increasing detoxification markers
Arsenic, a naturally occurring metalloid, is known for its toxic effects, particularly when ingested over long periods. Chronic exposure to arsenic can lead to severe health issues, including cancer. Realgar (As2S2 or As4S4), a traditional Chinese medicine containing arsenic, has demonstrated genotoxicity under long-term use at high doses. This study, conducted by researchers at Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, aimed to explore whether Niuhuang Jiedu (NHJD), a Chinese medicine prescription containing realgar and seven other traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs), could mitigate the genotoxic effects of realgar through the arsenic methylation metabolic pathway[1]. The research involved six groups of ICR mice, which were administered various treatments over 12 weeks. These groups included a control group, a realgar group (0.8 g/kg), an NHJD group (12.48 g/kg), and groups receiving realgar combined with Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch (GU), Scutellaria baicalensis Georg (SB), or Rheum palmatum L (RP). The study aimed to assess the genotoxicity of realgar and the potential mitigating effects of NHJD and its individual components. Genotoxicology tests revealed that NHJD significantly reduced the genotoxic effects of realgar. Similar reductions were observed when realgar was combined with SB, RP, or GU. Specifically, the levels of micronucleated polychromatic erythrocytes (MN‰), sperm head abnormalities (SPA%), and DNA damage were all decreased in the NHJD and combined groups compared to the realgar-only group. These findings suggest that NHJD and its components can mitigate the genotoxicity of realgar. The study also examined the arsenic methylation metabolic pathway, focusing on the levels of inorganic arsenic (iAs), dimethyl arsenic acid (DMA), and monomethyl arsenic acid (MMA) in the mice. The results showed a significant decrease in iAs% and an increase in DMA% and the primary methylation index (PMI) in the NHJD and realgar+SB (or RP) groups compared to the realgar-only group. This indicates an enhanced arsenic methylation capacity, which is crucial for reducing arsenic toxicity[2][3]. Further analysis revealed increases in S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) and arsenate reductase (ARR) levels across various groups, with the ARR increase in the NHJD group being statistically significant. Additionally, the gene expressions of arsenic (+3) methyltransferase (As3MT), purine-nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP), and glutathione S-transfer omega1 (GSTO1) were significantly elevated in the NHJD group. These molecular changes suggest that NHJD enhances the body's ability to metabolize and detoxify arsenic through increased methylation and antioxidant capacity[3][4][5]. The findings of this study align with previous research indicating that factors such as gender, dietary habits, and genetic characteristics can influence arsenic metabolism[2]. For example, women have been shown to have better methylation capacity than men, and dietary components like glutathione can promote arsenic methylation and urinary elimination[2][3]. The current study builds on these insights by demonstrating that NHJD, a complex mixture of TCMs, can enhance arsenic methylation and reduce its genotoxic effects. In conclusion, this study provides valuable insights into the potential of NHJD to mitigate the genotoxic effects of realgar. By enhancing arsenic methylation and increasing the expression of key detoxification genes, NHJD and its components (SB, RP, and GU) offer a promising approach to reducing arsenic toxicity. These findings could inform the development of safer therapeutic strategies involving realgar and other arsenic-containing compounds.



Main Study

1) The alleviation effect and its mechanism of Niuhuang Jiedu prescription on realgar-induced genotoxicity in Mice.

Published 4th June, 2024

Related Studies

2) Factors Affecting Arsenic Methylation in Contaminated Italian Areas.

3) Effects of glutathione on the in vivo metabolism and oxidative stress of arsenic in mice.

4) Arsenic and smokeless tobacco induce genotoxicity, sperm abnormality as well as oxidative stress in mice in vivo.

5) Speciation analysis of arsenic in urine samples from APL patients treated with single agent As2O3 by HPLC-HG-AFS.

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