Bioactive peptides derived from Radix Angelicae sinensis inhibit ferroptosis in HT22 cells through direct Keap1–Nrf2 PPI inhibition

Chen, Ban, et al. “Bioactive peptides derived from Radix Angelicae sinensis inhibit ferroptosis in HT22 cells through direct Keap1–Nrf2 PPI inhibition.” RSC advances 13.32 (2023): 22148-22157.


The development of natural peptides as direct Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1)–nuclear factor erythroid2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) protein–protein interaction (PPI) inhibitors for antioxidant and anti-ferroptotic purposes has attracted increasing interest from chemists. Radix Angelicae sinensis (RAS) is a widely used traditional Chinese medicine with antioxidant capability. However, few studies have screened Keap1–Nrf2 PPI inhibitory RAS peptides (RASPs). This study optimized the extraction and hydrolysis protocols of RAS protein using response surface methodology coupled with Box–Behnken design. The molecular weight distribution of the prepared hydrolysates was analysed to obtain active fractions. Subsequently, ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization quadrupole time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry was employed to identify RASPs. Various in vitro and in silico assays were conducted to evaluate the antioxidant and anti-ferroptotic effects of RASPs. The results revealed that at least 50 RASPs could be obtained through the optimized protocols. RASPs containing active residues effectively scavenged 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical and 2,2′-azinobis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline)-6-sulfonic acid radical cation. They also showed cytoprotective effect against erastin-induced ferroptosis in HT22 cells, which was characterized by the activation of Nrf2 and weakened under the incubation of an Nrf2 inhibitor. Moreover, RASPs could bind to Keap1 and then dissociate Nrf2 in molecular dynamics simulations. In conclusion, RASPs exhibit antioxidant activity through hydrogen atom transfer and electron transfer mechanisms. Importantly, they also inhibit ferroptosis by directly inhibiting Keap1–Nrf2 PPI.