In vitro and in vivo anti-inflammatory effects of taheebo, a water extract from the inner bark of Tabebuia avellanedae

J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Sep 2;119(1):145-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.06.016. Epub 2008 Jun 27.


Aim of study: Tabebuia spp. (Bignoniaceae) are native to tropical rain forests throughout Central and South America and have long been used as a folk medicine to treat bacterial infection, blood coagulation, cancer and inflammatory diseases. In this study, we aimed to demonstrate the ethnopharmacological activity of Tabebuia avellanedae in various in vitro and in vivo inflammatory conditions.

Materials and methods: To do this, LPS-stimulated macrophages and arachidonic acid or croton oil-induced mouse ear edema models were employed.

Results: The water extract (taheebo) of Tabebuia avellanedae significantly suppressed the production of prostaglandin (PG) E(2) and nitric oxide (NO), and blocked the mRNA expression of their catalyzing enzymes (cyclooxygenase [COX)-II] and inducible NO synthase [iNOS], respectively), in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. The blockade of inflammatory mediators by taheebo seemed to be the result of the interruption of extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) activation, according to immunoblotting analysis and the NO assay, where LPS strongly induced the phosphorylation (a hallmark of activation) of ERK, and U0126, a selective ERK inhibitor, was found to strongly inhibit PGE(2) production. Similarly, oral administration of taheebo (100mg/kg) for 1 week completely diminished mouse ear edema induced by arachidonic acid, an activator of COX-II, but not croton oil, an activator of lipoxygenase.

Conclusions: These data suggest that the ethnopharmacological action of taheebo may be due to its negative modulation of macrophage-mediated inflammatory responses by suppressing PGE(2) production. Thus, this water extract may be developed as a new therapeutic remedy for various inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Central America
  • Dinoprostone / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Edema / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Plant Bark
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • South America
  • Tabebuia / chemistry*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Plant Extracts
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Dinoprostone