A comparison of the effects of an extract of feverfew and parthenolide, a component of feverfew, on human platelet activity in-vitro

J Pharm Pharmacol. 1990 Aug;42(8):553-7. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.1990.tb07057.x.


Extracts of the herb feverfew inhibit human blood platelet aggregation and secretion induced by a number of agents in-vitro and this may relate to the beneficial effects of feverfew in migraine. We previously identified several compounds with antisecretory activity in human blood platelets using adrenaline as the stimulant. In the present study, we have compared the inhibitory activity of one of these compounds, parthenolide, with that of crude feverfew extract. The effects of both on [14C]5-HT secretion from platelets and on platelet aggregation induced by a number of different stimulants were determined. The activating agents studied included the phorbol ester PMA, ADP, arachidonic acid, collagen, the thromboxane mimetic U46619, the calcium ionophore A23187, the diacylglycerol analogue OAG and adrenaline. The results show that there are marked similarities between the effects of feverfew extract and of parthenolide on both [14C]5-HT secretion and platelet aggregation, which is consistent with the effects of feverfew extract on platelets being brought about by parthenolide or similar compounds in the extract. Only in one case, when A23187 was used as the stimulatory agent, was there any discrepancy, which may have been due to materials in the extract other than parthenolide. Both feverfew extract and parthenolide were more effective as inhibitors of the [14C]5-HT secretion and aggregation induced by some agents and not others, and were most effective as inhibitors of the [14C]5-HT secretion (but not the aggregation) induced by PMA. This suggests that the effects of feverfew/parthenolide on the protein kinase C pathway warrants further study.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets / drug effects*
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism
  • Calcimycin / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Platelet Aggregation / drug effects
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Serotonin Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Tanacetum parthenium


  • Plant Extracts
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • parthenolide
  • Serotonin
  • Calcimycin