Ethyl acetate extracts of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) sprouts inhibit lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in vitro and in vivo

J Biomed Sci. 2009 Jul 14;16(1):64. doi: 10.1186/1423-0127-16-64.


This study aimed to investigate if food components that exert anti-inflammatory effects may be used for inflammatory disorders by examining alfalfa sprout ethyl acetate extract (ASEA). The cytokine profile and life span of BALB/c mice with acute inflammation after intra-peritoneal (ip) injection of 15 mg/kg BW lipopolysaccharide (LPS) were determined. The results showed that the life span of LPS-induced inflammatory mice were negatively correlated with serum levels of TNF-alpha, IL-6, and IL-1beta at 9 hr after LPS-injection, which indicated that suppressing these cytokines in the late phase of inflammation may be beneficial for survival. The in vitro experiment then showed that ASEA significantly reduced IL-6 and IL-1beta production and the NF-kappaB trans-activation activity of mitogen-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. To further evaluate the anti-inflammatory effects of ASEA in vivo, BALB/c mice were tube-fed with 25 mg ASEA/kg BW/day in 50 microl sunflower oil, while the control and PDTC (pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate, an anti-inflammatory agent) groups were tube-fed with 50 microl sunflower oil/day only. After one week of tube-feeding, the PDTC group was injected with 50 mg/kg BW PDTC and one hour later, all of the mice were injected with 15 mg/kg BW LPS. The results showed that the ASEA and PDTC groups had significantly lower serum TNF-alpha, IL-6, and IL-1beta levels at 9 hr after LPS challenge, and significantly higher survival rates than the control group. This study suggests that ASEA supplementation can suppress the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and alleviate acute inflammatory hazards.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / chemistry
  • Acetates / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Genes, Reporter
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Medicago sativa / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Acetates
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Plant Extracts
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • ethyl acetate