Background: Macrophages play a dual role in host defence. They act as the first line of defence by mounting an inflammatory response to antigen exposure and also act as antigen presenting cells and initiate the adaptive immune response. They are also the primary infiltrating cells at the site of inflammation. Inhibition of macrophage activation is one of the possible approaches towards modulating inflammation. Both conventional and alternative approaches are being studied in this regard. Ginger, an herbal product with broad anti inflammatory actions, is used as an alternative medicine in a number of inflammatory conditions like rheumatic disorders. In the present study we examined the effect of ginger extract on macrophage activation in the presence of LPS stimulation.
Methods: Murine peritoneal macrophages were stimulated by LPS in presence or absence of ginger extract and production of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines were observed. We also studied the effect of ginger extract on the LPS induced expression of MHC II, B7.1, B7.2 and CD40 molecules. We also studied the antigen presenting function of ginger extract treated macrophages by primary mixed lymphocyte reaction.
Results: We observed that ginger extract inhibited IL-12, TNF-alpha, IL-1beta (pro inflammatory cytokines) and RANTES, MCP-1 (pro inflammatory chemokines) production in LPS stimulated macrophages. Ginger extract also down regulated the expression of B7.1, B7.2 and MHC class II molecules. In addition ginger extract negatively affected the antigen presenting function of macrophages and we observed a significant reduction in T cell proliferation in response to allostimulation, when ginger extract treated macrophages were used as APCs. A significant decrease in IFN-gamma and IL-2 production by T cells in response to allostimulation was also observed.
Conclusion: In conclusion ginger extract inhibits macrophage activation and APC function and indirectly inhibits T cell activation.