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Chamomile flower, myrrh and coffee charcoal, components of a traditional herbal medicinal product, diminish pro-inflammatory activation in human macrophages
Background: The traditional herbal medicinal product Myrrhinil-Intest®, a combination of myrrh, chamomile flower and coffee charcoal is used for the relief of gastrointestinal complaints. Clinical studies suggest its use in the maintenance therapy of inflammatory bowel disease . However, the pharmacological mechanisms underlying the clinical effects are not yet fully understood.
Aim: The present study aims to elucidate immunopharmacological activities of myrrh, chamomile flower and coffee charcoal by studying their influence on gene expression and protein release of activated human macrophages.
Methods: The effect of ethanolic myrrh (MY), chamomile flower (KA) and coffee charcoal extract (CC) on gene and protein expression of activated human monocyte-derived macrophages was investigated by microarray gene expression analysis and assessment of the release of pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators (TNFα, chemokine CXCL13 and IL10) using an ELISA test system.
Results: All herbal components influenced gene expression of activated human macrophages within the cytokine/chemokine signaling pathway. Particularly chemokine gene expression was suppressed after treatment with the plant extracts. Furthermore, protein release of the chemokine CXCL13 (IC50: MY = 19 µg/ml, KA = 82 µg/ml, CC = 106 µg/ml) and to some extent of TNFα (IC50: MY = 60.65 µg/ml, KA = 438 µg/ml) was inhibited by the herbal extracts. IL10 release from activated macrophages was enhanced after treatment with KA (up to 141% enh.) and CC extract (up to 155% enh.). The observed effects on protein release were comparable to the effect of budesonide (1nM), which decreased TNFα and CXCL13 and enhanced IL10 release.
Conclusion: The herbal components of the traditional herbal medicinal product influence the activity of activated human macrophages on both gene and protein expression level. The present data aids to understand the complex pharmacological activities of these plant extracts within their therapeutic application.
 Langhorst J et al. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2013; 38: 490 – 500