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Salai guggal and boswellic acids: their effects on the arachidonic acid cascade.

Salai guggal is the gum resin from the tree Boswellia serrata. Based on studies by G.B. Singh and C.K. Atal showing anti-inflammatory activity of extracts, we studied the effect of an extract of B. serrata and a variety of boswellic acids on the formation of products of the arachidonic acid cascade. Prostaglandins: In human platelets, which produce only prostaglandins, salai guggal inhibited formation of 6-keto-PGF l[alpha] only at very high concentrations being around 100 [micro]g/ml. When a mixture of acetyl boswellic acids was employed, no inhibition was found up to 60 [micro]g/rnl. On the other hand, acetyl-keto-beta-boswellic acid produced inhibition in concentrations above 10 [micro]M. Leukotrienes: Using polymorphnuclear leukocytes which can produce only leukotrienes, salai guggal in a sigmoid concentration-dependent manner inhibited production of LT[B.sub.4] and other 5-LO products. Employing acetyl-boswellic acids, again an inhibition of LT[B.sub.4] and other 5-LO product formation was observed. Among several boswellic acids, acety1-11-keto-[beta]-boswellic acid (AKBA) was the most effective, the [IC.sub.50] was 1.5 [micro]M. As far as ll-keto-j3-boswellic acid (KBA) is concerned [IC.sub.50] was 4.5 [micro]M. Other boswellic acids have been found to be less or not effective at all. There was a close structure-activity relationship. Inhibition of leukotriene synthesis occurred in a nonredox and noncompetitive manner. In photo-labeling studies with [125]-azido-boswellic acid, it was found that this compound binds to the enzyme 5-lipoxygenase and could be removed in the presence of unlabeled AKBA or other boswellic acids. It is concluded that certain boswellic acids including AKBA and KBA preferentially inhibit 5-lipoxygenase and with far less activity cyclooxygenase. This leads to the hypothesis that chronic inflammatory diseases with increased leukotriene formation may be a target for the treatment with salai guggal or certain boswellic acids. Pilot studies so far suggest therapeutic benefit in chronic bowel diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and bronchial asthma.

Further reading

Ammon, H.P.T., 2006. Boswellic acids in chronic inflammatory diseases. Planta Med. 72, 1100-1116.

H.P.T. Ammon

Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. University of Tuebingen, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany

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Author:Ammon, H.P.T.
Publication:Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy & Phytopharmacology
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Jun 1, 2008
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