Background and purpose: Frankincense, the gum resin derived from Boswellia species, showed anti-inflammatory efficacy in animal models and in pilot clinical studies. Boswellic acids (BAs) are assumed to be responsible for these effects but their anti-inflammatory efficacy in vivo and their molecular modes of action are incompletely understood.
Experimental approach: A protein fishing approach using immobilized BA and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy were used to reveal microsomal prostaglandin E(2) synthase-1 (mPGES1) as a BA-interacting protein. Cell-free and cell-based assays were applied to confirm the functional interference of BAs with mPGES1. Carrageenan-induced mouse paw oedema and rat pleurisy models were utilized to demonstrate the efficacy of defined BAs in vivo.
Key results: Human mPGES1 from A549 cells or in vitro-translated human enzyme selectively bound to BA affinity matrices and SPR spectroscopy confirmed these interactions. BAs reversibly suppressed the transformation of prostaglandin (PG)H(2) to PGE(2) mediated by mPGES1 (IC(50) = 3-10 µM). Also, in intact A549 cells, BAs selectively inhibited PGE(2) generation and, in human whole blood, β-BA reduced lipopolysaccharide-induced PGE(2) biosynthesis without affecting formation of the COX-derived metabolites 6-keto PGF(1α) and thromboxane B(2) . Intraperitoneal or oral administration of β-BA (1 mg·kg(-1) ) suppressed rat pleurisy, accompanied by impaired levels of PGE(2) and β-BA (1 mg·kg(-1) , given i.p.) also reduced mouse paw oedema, both induced by carrageenan.
Conclusions and implications: Suppression of PGE(2) formation by BAs via interference with mPGES1 contribute to the anti-inflammatory effectiveness of BAs and of frankincense, and may constitute a biochemical basis for their anti-inflammatory properties.
© 2010 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology © 2010 The British Pharmacological Society.