Background and purpose: alpha-Humulene and trans-caryophyllene are sesquiterpene compounds identified in the essential oil of Cordia verbenacea which display topical and systemic anti-inflammatory effects in different experimental models. However, the molecular mechanisms through which they exert their anti-inflammatory activity still remain unclear. Here, we evaluate the effects of alpha-humulene and trans-caryophyllene on the acute inflammatory responses elicited by LPS.
Experimental approach: The biological activities of alpha-humulene and trans-caryophyllene were investigated in a model of acute inflammation in rat paw, induced by LPS and characterized by paw oedema, neutrophil recruitment, cytokine production, activation of MAP kinases and NF-kappaB and up-regulated expression of kinin B(1) receptors.
Key results: Treatment with either alpha-humulene or trans-caryophyllene effectively reduced neutrophil migration and activation of NF-kappaB induced by LPS in the rat paw. However, only alpha-humulene significantly reduced the increase in TNF-alpha and IL-1beta levels, paw oedema and the up-regulation of B(1) receptors following treatment with LPS. Both compounds failed to interfere with the activation of the MAP kinases, ERK, p38 and JNK.
Conclusions and implications: Both alpha-humulene and trans-caryophyllene inhibit the LPS-induced NF-kappaB activation and neutrophil migration, although only alpha-humulene had the ability to prevent the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-1beta and the in vivo up-regulation of kinin B(1) receptors. These data provide additional molecular and functional insights into the beneficial effects of the sesquiterpenes alpha-humulene and trans-caryophyllene isolated from the essential oil of Cordia verbenacea as agents for the management of inflammatory diseases.