The dried root of the great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) is a commonly used herbal medicine, known as Sanguisorbae Radix. It is normally used to treat burns, inflammation, and allergic skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis. Aside from these, Sanguisorbae Radix also has anti-wrinkle and antioxidant properties. Although it is commonly used, the rationale behind its effectiveness is still poorly understood.
Two cell types that have been implicated in inflammatory responses are the mast cells and keratinocytes. When there is an inflammation, mast cells undergo degranulation wherein they release pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and inflammatory mediators outside of the cell. Similarly, keratinocytes can also produce pro-inflammatory chemokines. In addition to these, mast cells also induce eosinophil chemotaxis at sites of inflammation. In this study, the mechanism of action of Sanguisorbae Radix water extract in inflammatory diseases was determined based on its effects on these types of cells.
To determine if Sanguisorbae Radix is potentially harmful to the cells, a cell viability assay, using a cell counting kit, was conducted. Results showed that Sanguisorbae Radix is not harmful to cells at concentrations of up to 50 micrograms/mL. However, a concentration of 100 micrograms/mL already exhibits mild cytotoxic activity.
One of the substances released by mast cells undergoing degranulation is beta-hexosaminidase. It was determined based on the reduced levels of beta-hexosaminidase that the treatment of IgE/Ag-activated bone marrow-derived mast cells with Sanguisorbae Radix inhibits degranulation. This inhibition of degranulation was observed to follow a dose-dependent manner.
The study also looked into the production of chemokines, including TARC, RANTES, MDC, and IL-8, by human keratinocyte cells. It was shown that stimulation of cells with tumor necrosis factor alpha and interferon gamma causes an increase in the levels of these chemokines. However, treatment of stimulated cells with Sanguisorbae Radix water extract effectively inhibits the production of these chemokines in a dose-dependent manner.
Additionally, the expression of genes corresponding to the aforementioned chemokines was measured using RT-PCR. The results show that the response of these genes to stimulation and treatment followed the same trend as their protein counterparts.
Pathways associated with chemokine production of human keratinocyte cells were also used to determine the mechanism that Sanguisorbae Radix utilizes. The pathways that were studied include the p38, c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT-1), and Janus kinase 2 (JAK-2) pathways. Results showed that all of these pathways were inhibited upon treatment with Sanguisorbae Radix.
Overall, the results of the study show that Sanguisorbae Radix can inhibit mast cell degranulation and pro-inflammatory chemokine production by suppressing the p38, JNK, STAT-1, and JAK-2 signaling pathways. These results prove that Sanguisorbae Radix is an effective anti-inflammatory herbal medicine. (Related: Five best natural anti-inflammatory herbs.)
Aside from Sanguisorbae Radix, the natural herbs and foods that can treat inflammation include:
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