boswellia and endothelial inflammation

Written by on September 27, 2005 in research with 0 Comments

Human genome screen to identify the genetic basis of the anti-inflammatory effects of Boswellia in microvascular endothelial cells.

DNA and Cell Biology, Apr 2005, Vol. 24, No. 4: 244-255

Abstract: Inflammatory disorders represent a substantial health problem. Medicinal plants belonging to the Burseraceae family, including Boswellia, are especially known for their anti-inflammatory properties. The gum resin of Boswellia serrata contains boswellic acids, which inhibit leukotriene biosynthesis. A series of chronic inflammatory diseases are perpetuated by leukotrienes. Although Boswellia extract has proven to be anti-inflammatory in clinical trials, the underlying mechanisms remain to be characterized.

TNF alpha represents one of the most widely recognized mediators of inflammation. One mechanism by which TNF alpha causes inflammation is by potently inducing the expression of adhesion molecules such as VCAM-1. We sought to test the genetic basis of the antiinflammatory effects of BE (standardized Boswellia extract, 5-Loxin) in a system of TNF alpha-induced gene expression in human microvascular endothelial cells. We conducted the first whole genome screen for TNF alpha-inducible genes in human microvascular cells (HMEC). Acutely, TNF alpha induced 522 genes and downregulated 141 genes in nine out of nine pairwise comparisons. Of the 522 genes induced by TNF alpha in HMEC, 113 genes were clearly sensitive to BE treatment. Such genes directly related to inflammation, cell adhesion, and proteolysis. The robust BE-sensitive candidate genes were then subjected to further processing for the identification of BE-sensitive signaling pathways.

The use of resources such as GenMAPP, KEGG, and gene ontology led to the recognition of the primary BE-sensitive TNF alpha-inducible pathways. BE prevented the TNF alpha-induced expression of matrix metalloproteinases. BE also prevented the inducible expression of mediators of apoptosis. Most strikingly, however, TNF alpha-inducible expression of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 were observed to be sensitive to BE. Realtime PCR studies showed that while TNF alpha potently induced VCAM-1 gene expression, BE completely prevented it.

This result confirmed our microarray findings and built a compelling case for the anti-inflammatory property of BE. In an in vivo model of carrageenan-induced rat paw inflammation, we observed a significant anti-inflammatory property of BE consistent with our in vitro findings. These findings warrant further research aimed at identifying the signaling mechanisms by which BE exerts its anti-inflammatory effects.

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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