The activity of medicinal plants and secondary metabolites on eosinophilic inflammation

Pharmacol Res. 2010 Oct;62(4):298-307. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2010.04.005. Epub 2010 May 5.


Eosinophils are leukocytes that are present in several body compartments and in the blood at relatively low numbers under normal conditions. However, an increase in the number of eosinophils, in the blood or in the tissues, is observed in allergic or parasitic disorders. Although some progress has been made in understanding the development of eosinophil-mediated inflammation in allergic and parasitic diseases, the discovery of new compounds to control eosinophilia has lagged behind other advances. Plant-derived secondary metabolites are the basis for many drugs currently used to treat pathologic conditions, including eosinophilic diseases. Several studies, including our own, have demonstrated that plant extracts and secondary metabolites can reduce eosinophilia and eosinophil recruitment in different experimental animal models. In this review, we summarize these studies and describe the anti-eosinophilic activity of various plant extracts, such as Ginkgo biloba, Allium cepa, and Lafoensia pacari, as well as those of secondary metabolites (compounds isolated from plant extracts), such as quercetin and ellagic acid. In addition, we highlight the medical potential of these plant-derived compounds for treating eosinophil-mediated inflammation, such as asthma and allergy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eosinophilia / drug therapy*
  • Eosinophils / drug effects
  • Eosinophils / immunology*
  • Eosinophils / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / immunology
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal / immunology*
  • Plants, Medicinal / metabolism


  • Plant Extracts