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Open Access Research article

Reduction of urate crystal-induced inflammation by root extracts from traditional oriental medicinal plants: elevation of prostaglandin D2 levels

Sung Mun Jung135, H Ralph Schumacher13, Hocheol Kim5, Miyeon Kim5, Seoung Hoon Lee2 and Frank Pessler4*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Rheumatology, University of Pennsylvania, 3600 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

2 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, 3400 Spruce St, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

3 Division of Rheumatology, Veteran Affairs Medical Center, University and Woodland Avenues, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

4 Division of Rheumatology, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 3405 Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

5 Faculty of Oriental Medicine, Department of Herbal Pharmacology, Kyung Hee University College of Oriental Medicine, 1 Hoekidong, Dongdaemoonku, Seoul 130-701, Korea

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2007, 9:R64  doi:10.1186/ar2222

Published: 5 July 2007

Abstract

Dried roots of the plants Acanthopanax senticosus, Angelica sinensis and Scutellaria baicalensis are used in traditional oriental medicine and reportedly possess anti-inflammatory properties. Using the murine air pouch model of inflammation, we investigated the efficacy and mode of action of an extract from these three plants in crystal-induced inflammation. Air pouches were raised on the backs of 8-week-old BALB/c mice. Mice were fed 100 mg/kg body weight of root extracts (A. senticosus:A. sinensis:S. baicalensis mixed in a ratio of 5:4:1 by weight) or vehicle only on days 3–6. Inflammation was elicited on day 6 by injecting 2 mg of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals into the pouch. Neutrophil density and IL-6 and TNF-α mRNA levels were determined in the pouch membrane, and the leukocyte count and IL-6, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) levels were determined in the pouch exudate. Treatment with the root extracts led to a reduction in all inflammatory parameters: the leukocyte count in the pouch exudate decreased by 82%; the neutrophil density in the pouch membrane decreased by 68%; IL-6 and TNF-α mRNA levels in the pouch membrane decreased by 100%; the IL-6 concentration in the pouch fluid decreased by 50%; and the PGE2 concentration in the pouch fluid decreased by 69%. Remarkably, the concentration of the potentially anti-inflammatory PGD2 rose 5.2-fold in the pouch exudate (p < 0.005), which led to a normalization of the PGD2:PGE2 ratio. A 3.7-fold rise in hematopoietic PGD synthase (h-PGDS) mRNA paralleled this rise in PGD2 (p = 0.01).

Thus, the root extracts diminished MSU crystal-induced inflammation by reducing neutrophil recruitment and expression of pro-inflammatory factors and increasing the level of the potentially anti-inflammatory PGD2. These results support a need for further studies of the efficacy of these extracts in the treatment of inflammatory arthropathies and suggest elevation of PGD2 levels as a novel mechanism for an anti-inflammatory agent.