New insights into the mechanism of action of the anti-inflammatory triterpene lupeol

J Pharm Pharmacol. 2001 Nov;53(11):1533-9. doi: 10.1211/0022357011777909.


The pentacyclic triterpene lupeol has been studied for its inhibitory effects on murine models of inflammation and peritoneal macrophage functions in-vitro. Lupeol (0.5 and 1 mg/ear) administered topically suppressed the mouse ear oedema induced by 12-0-tetradecanoyl-phorbol acetate (TPA), being less effective on ear oedema induced by arachidonic acid. Quantitation of the neutrophil specific marker myeloperoxidase demonstrated that its topical activity was associated with reduction in cell infiltration into inflamed tissues. When tested in-vitro, lupeol significantly reduced prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production from A23187-stimulated macrophages, but failed to affect leukotriene C4 release. It was a weak inhibitor of nitrite release, but dose-dependently suppressed PGE2. Cytokine production (tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-1beta) was inhibited in the range 10-100 microM in lipopolysaccharide-treated macrophages. This study demonstrated that lupeol possessed anti-inflammatory activity which was likely to depend on its ability to prevent the production of some pro-inflammatory mediators.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Arachidonic Acid / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dinoprostone / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Edema / chemically induced
  • Edema / prevention & control
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Interleukin-1 / metabolism
  • Leukotriene C4 / metabolism
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / drug effects
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Nitrites / metabolism
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Pimenta*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Triterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1
  • Nitrites
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes
  • Plant Extracts
  • Triterpenes
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Leukotriene C4
  • Dinoprostone
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate
  • lupeol