Immunomodulatory activity of Asparagus racemosus on systemic Th1/Th2 immunity: implications for immunoadjuvant potential

J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jan 21;121(2):241-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.10.028. Epub 2008 Nov 8.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Roots of Asparagus racemosus Willd (Shatavari in vernacular) are widely used in Ayurveda as Rasayana for immunostimulation, galactogogue as also in treatment of conditions like ulcers and cancer. Various studies have indicated immunomodulatory properties of Shatavari root extracts and formulations.

Aim of the study: To study the effect of standardized Asparagus racemosus root aqueous extract (ARE) on systemic Th1/Th2 immunity of SRBC sensitized animals.

Materials and methods: We used HPTLC to quantify steroidal saponins (Shatavarin IV, Immunoside) and flow cytometry to study effects of ARE on Th1/Th2 immunity. SRBC specific antibody titres and DTH responses were also monitored as markers of Th2 and Th1 responses, respectively. We also studied lymphocyte proliferation. Cyclosporin, cyclophosphamide and levamisole were used as controls.

Results: Treatment with ARE (100mg/(kg b.w.p.o.)) resulted in significant increase of CD3(+) and CD4/CD8(+) percentages suggesting its effect on T cell activation. ARE treated animals showed significant up-regulation of Th1 (IL-2, IFN-g) and Th2 (IL-4) cytokines suggesting its mixed Th1/Th2 adjuvant activity. Consistent to this, ARE also showed higher antibody titres and DTH responses. ARE, in combination with LPS, Con A or SRBC, produced a significant proliferation suggesting effect on activated lymphocytes.

Conclusion: The study suggests mixed Th1/Th2 activity of ARE supports its immunoadjuvant potential.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / isolation & purification
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Asparagus Plant / chemistry*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Male
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Roots
  • Saponins / isolation & purification
  • Saponins / pharmacology
  • Sheep
  • Th1 Cells / drug effects*
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / drug effects*
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Plant Extracts
  • Saponins