Boswellic acids: A leukotriene inhibitor also effective through topical application in inflammatory disorders

Phytomedicine. 2008 Jun;15(6-7):400-7. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2007.11.019. Epub 2008 Jan 28.


Boswellic acids (BA), a natural mixture isolated from oleo gum resin of Boswellia serrata comprised of four major pentacyclic triterpene acids: beta-boswellic acid (the most abundant), 3-acteyl-beta-boswellic acid, 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid, and 3-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid, is reported to be effective as anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-tumor, anti-asthmatic and in Chron's disease. It inhibits pro-inflammatory mediators in the body, specifically leukotrienes via inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase, the key enzyme of leukotriene synthesis, is the scientifically proved mechanism for its anti-inflammatory/anti-arthritic activity. All previous work on BA for its biological activity has been done through the systemic application but no pre-clinical data reported for its anti-inflammatory activity by topical application. We here by report anti-inflammatory activity of BA through this route by applying different acute and chronic models of inflammation i.e., arachidonic acid and croton oil-induced mouse ear edema, carrageenan-induced rats paw edema and adjuvant-induced developing arthritis in rats. The results of the study revealed that the effect observed through this route is in accordance to the study conducted with the systemic route, thus establishing that BA when used through topical application is as effective as through the systemic route.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Arthritis / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis / microbiology
  • Boswellia / chemistry
  • Carrageenan
  • Croton Oil
  • Edema / chemically induced
  • Edema / drug therapy*
  • Leukotriene Antagonists / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Triterpenes / administration & dosage*
  • Triterpenes / isolation & purification


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Leukotriene Antagonists
  • Plant Extracts
  • Triterpenes
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • boswellic acid
  • Croton Oil
  • Carrageenan