Anti-inflammatory activity of parthenolide-depleted Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

Inflammopharmacology. 2009 Feb;17(1):42-9. doi: 10.1007/s10787-008-8040-9.


Extracts of Tanacetum parthenium (L.) Sch. Bip., a plant known under the common name "Feverfew", contains the sesquiterpene lactone parthenolide, a potent skin sensitizer. To eliminate the risk of skin sensitization from Feverfew, we developed a parthenolide-depleted extract of Feverfew (PD-Feverfew) and determined its effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory agent. We confirmed that PD-Feverfew was sufficiently depleted of parthenolide since PD-Feverfew did not inhibit TNF-alpha induced-NF-kappaB activity unlike parthenolide containing whole Feverfew. PD-Feverfew directly inhibited the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes 5-lipoxygenase, phosphodiesterase-3 and phosphodiesterase-4. PD-Feverfew inhibited the release of pro-inflammatory mediators nitric oxide, PGE(2) and TNF-alpha from macrophages and TNF-alpha, IL-2, IFN-gamma and IL-4 from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Additionally, PD-Feverfew inhibited TPA-induced release of PGE(2) from human skin equivalents. In vivo, PD-Feverfew inhibited oxazolone-induced dermatitis, and was more potent than whole Feverfew in reducing TPA-induced dermatitis. Finally the efficacy of PD-Feverfew was confirmed clinically by a reduction in erythema in a methyl nicotinate-induced vasodilation model. In conclusion, our results indicate that PD-Feverfew extracts have potent anti-inflammatory activity suggesting that this botanical would be efficacious in relieving inflammation without inducing immune sensitization.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dermatitis / drug therapy
  • Dermatitis / physiopathology
  • Erythema / drug therapy
  • Erythema / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Sesquiterpenes / isolation & purification
  • Sesquiterpenes / toxicity
  • Tanacetum parthenium / chemistry*
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Plant Extracts
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • parthenolide