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1Traditional Medicine Research  2020, Vol. 5 Issue (3): 167-177    DOI: 10.12032/TMR20190814130
Special Issue on Infectious Diseases and Public Health     
The role of natural products in regulating pyroptosis
Yi-Zhen Bai1, Ke-Wu Zeng1,*()
1State Key Laboratory of Natural and Biomimetic Drugs, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100191, China.
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This manuscript categorizes and concludes research results on the correlation between different natural products and pyroptosis in recent years.


The present review summarizes many natural products coming from traditional Chinese medicine that play the role in regulating pyroptosis, such as Chuanxinlian [Andrographis paniculata (Burm. f.) Nees.], Gancao (Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch.), Huanglian (Coptis chinensis Franch.), Tusizi (Cuscuta chinensis Lam.), Heizhima (Sesamum indicum L.), etc. The first record about Gancao (Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch.) and Huanglian (Coptis chinensis Franch) is in the ancient book of Chinese medicine named Shennongbencaojing (Donghan dynasty of China).


In recent years, large numbers of novel cell death types have been reported such as autophagic death, paraptosis, mitosis, oncosis and pyroptosis. As a new type of proinflammatory programmed cell death, pyroptosis has attracted increasing attentions gradually, and its morphological characteristics and molecular mechanisms are significantly different from other cell death types such as necrosis and apoptosis. Many research groups have demonstrated the association between pyroptosis and various human diseases including immunological disease, cancer, atherosclerosis, infectious disease, and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease. Natural products are small molecules synthetized in organisms including primary and secondary metabolites. Natural products are important sources of modern innovative drugs discovery and can be used as key tools to explore the molecular mechanism of cell fate. The aim of this study is to review the molecular mechanisms and pathways of pyroptosis, and to categorize and conclude research results on the correlation between different natural products and pyroptosis in recent years. In this study, a total of 39 papers were enrolled in analyses. The molecular pathways and mechanisms of pyroptosis were clearly described. Fourteen types of natural products, their sources, effects, mechanisms and therapeutic potentials are categorized and illuminated. It is showed that a variety of natural products and pyroptosis have close correlations. They negatively or positively affect or act on different positions of pyroptosis inflammatory pathways, indicating that they may have certain potential therapeutic effects on pyroptosis-related diseases. Pyroptosis, a relatively new way of cell death, is closely associated with a variety of diseases. Natural products can have obvious effects on the process of pyroptosis as potential sources of new drugs. In-depth studies using natural products to investigate pyroptosis will help to enhance our understandings of human diseases and establish effective prevention and treatment strategies.

Key wordsNatural products      Pyroptosis      Programmed cell death      Gasdermin-D      Inflammasome     
Published: 13 April 2020
Fund:  This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Nos. 81773932, 30873072 and 81530097] and the National Key Technology R&D Program “New Drug Innovation” of China [No. 2018ZX09711001-008-003]
Corresponding Authors: Ke-Wu Zeng   
Cite this article:

Yi-Zhen Bai, Ke-Wu Zeng. The role of natural products in regulating pyroptosis. 1Traditional Medicine Research, 2020, 5(3): 167-177. doi: 10.12032/TMR20190814130


Structure types Compounds Sources Effects in Pyroptosis Pathways
Inflammasome formation Caspase activation GSDMD cleavage Cytokine release
Flavonoids Dihydromyricetin Tianchateng [Ampelopsis grossedentata (Hand. -Mazz.) W. T. Wang]
Scutellarin Dengzhanhua [Erigeron breviscapus (Vant.) Hand. -Mazz.]
Taxifolin Luoyesong [Larix gmelinii (Rupr.) Kuzen.]
Saponins Celastrol Nansheteng [Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb.]
Chikusetsu saponin IVa Zhuzishen [Panax japonicus C. A. Mey. var. major (Burk.) C. Y. Wu et K. M. Feng]
Glycyrrhizin Gancao (Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch.)
Organic phenol Gossypol Mianhua (Gossypium barbadense L.)
Alkaloids Piperine Hujiao (Piper nigrum L.)
Berberine Huanglian (Coptis chinensis Franch.)
Lipids Vitamin E Vegetable oil & green vegetables
Quinones Emodin Huzhang (Polygonum cuspidatum Sieb. et Zucc.)
Thymoquinone Heizhongcao (Nigella glandulifera Freyn)
Heavy Metals Mercury & Arsenic Shuiyin (Mercury) & Pishuang (As2O3)/ Xionghuang (α-As4S4)
Table1 The classifications, plant origins and functions of compounds in pyroptosis pathway
Figure 1 Chemical structures of Dihydromyricetin, Scutellarin and Taxifolin
Figure 2 Chemical structures of Andrographolide, Celastrol, Chikusetsu saponin Iva and Glycyrrhizin
Figure 3 Chemical structures of Gossypol, Piperine and Berberine
Figure 4 Chemical structures of Vitamin E, Emodin and Thymoquinone
Figure 5 Schematic diagram of pyroptosis pathway and part of the natural products
NLRP, Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor protein; ASC, Apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing CARD; GSDMD, Gasdermin-DCARD.
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