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Original Article

Korean J Physiol Pharmacol 2022; 26(3): 165-174

Published online May 1, 2022

Copyright © Korean J Physiol Pharmacol.

Oxymatrine inhibits the pyroptosis in rat insulinoma cells by affecting nuclear factor kappa B and nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 protein/heme oxygenase-1 pathways

Jingying Gao1,2,*, Lixia Xia1, and Yuanyuan Wei1,2

1Department of Pediatrics, Shanxi Medical University, 2Pediatric Internal Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Shanxi Province, Shanxi Medical University, Taiyuan 030001, China

Correspondence to:Jingying Gao

Received: April 19, 2021; Revised: January 11, 2022; Accepted: February 4, 2022

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


As the mechanism underlying glucose metabolism regulation by oxymatrine is unclear, this study investigated the effects of oxymatrine on pyroptosis in INS-1 cells. Flow cytometry was employed to examine cell pyroptosis and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Cell pyroptosis was also investigated via transmission electron microscopy and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release. Protein levels were detected using western blotting and interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18 secretion by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The caspase-1 activity and DNA-binding activity of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 protein (Nrf2) were also assessed. In the high glucose and high fat-treated INS-1 cells (HG + PA), the caspase-1 activity and LDH content, as well as Nod-like receptor family pyrin domain containing 3, Gsdmd-N, caspase-1, apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD, IL-1β, and IL-18 levels were increased. Moreover, P65 protein levels increased in the nucleus but decreased in the cytoplasm. Oxymatrine attenuated these effects and suppressed high glucose and high fat-induced ROS production. The increased levels of nuclear Nrf2 and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) in the HG + PA cells were further elevated after oxymatrine treatment, whereas cytoplasmic Nrf2 and Keleh-like ECH-associated protein levels decreased. Additionally, the elevated transcriptional activity of p65 in HG + PA cells was reduced by oxymatrine, whereas that of Nrf2 increased. The results indicate that the inhibition of pyroptosis in INS-1 cells by oxymatrine, a key factor in its glucose metabolism regulation, involves the suppression of the NF-κB pathway and activation of the Nrf2/HO-1 pathway.

Keywords: Heme oxygenase-1, Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 protein, Nuclear factor kappa B, Oxymatrine, Pyroptosis