Hyperforin is a dual inhibitor of cyclooxygenase-1 and 5-lipoxygenase

Biochem Pharmacol. 2002 Dec 15;64(12):1767-75. doi: 10.1016/s0006-2952(02)01387-4.


The acylphloroglucinol derivative hyperforin is the major lipophilic constituent in the herb Hypericum perforatum (St. John's wort). The aim of the present study was to investigate if hyperforin as well as extracts of H. perforatum can suppresses the activities of 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) and cyclooxygenases (COX), key enzymes in the formation of proinflammatory eicosanoids from arachidonic acid (AA). In freshly isolated human polymorphonuclear leukocytes stimulated with Ca(2+) ionophore A23187, hyperforin inhibited 5-LO product formation with IC(50) values of about 1-2 microM, in the absence or presence of exogenous AA (20 microM), respectively, being almost equipotent to the well-documented 5-LO inhibitor zileuton (IC(50) = 0.5-1 microM). Experiments with purified human 5-LO demonstrate that hyperforin is a direct 5-LO inhibitor (IC(50) approximately 90 nM), acting in an uncompetitive fashion. In thrombin- or ionophore-stimulated human platelets, hyperforin suppressed COX-1 product (12(S)-hydroxyheptadecatrienoic acid) formation with an IC(50) of 0.3 and 3 microM, respectively, being about 3- to 18-fold more potent than aspirin. At similar concentrations, hyperforin suppressed COX-1 activity in platelets in presence of exogenous AA (20 microM) as well as in cell-free systems. Hyperforin could not interfere with COX-2 product formation and did not significantly inhibit 12- or 15-LO in platelets or leukocytes, respectively. We conclude that hyperforin acts as a dual inhibitor of 5-LO and COX-1 in intact cells as well as on the catalytic activity of the crude enzymes, suggesting therapeutic potential in inflammatory and allergic diseases connected to eicosanoids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase / metabolism
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects
  • Blood Platelets / enzymology
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Hypericum / chemistry
  • Isoenzymes / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / enzymology
  • Lipoxygenase Inhibitors*
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Phloroglucinol / analogs & derivatives
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / metabolism
  • Terpenes / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Isoenzymes
  • Lipoxygenase Inhibitors
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Plant Extracts
  • Terpenes
  • Phloroglucinol
  • Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS1 protein, human
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases
  • hyperforin