Chlorophyll revisited: anti-inflammatory activities of chlorophyll a and inhibition of expression of TNF-α gene by the same

Inflammation. 2012 Jun;35(3):959-66. doi: 10.1007/s10753-011-9399-0.


In view of the folklore use of green leaves to treat inflammation, the anti-inflammatory property of chlorophylls and their degradation products were studied. Chlorophyll a and pheophytin a (magnesium-free chlorophyll a) from fresh leaves showed potent anti-inflammatory activity against carrageenan-induced paw edema in mice and formalin-induced paw edema in rats. Chlorophyll a inhibited bacterial lipopolysaccharide-induced TNF-α (a pro-inflammatory cytokine) gene expression in HEK293 cells, but it did not influence the expression of inducible nitric acid synthase and cyclooxygenase-2 genes. Chlorophyll b only marginally inhibited both inflammation and TNF-α gene expression. But both chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b showed the same level of marginal inhibition on 12-O-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate-induced NF-κB activation. Chlorophylls and pheophytins showed in vitro anti-oxidant activity. The study shows that chlorophyll a and its degradation products are valuable and abundantly available anti-inflammatory agents and promising for the development of phytomedicine or conventional medicine to treat inflammation and related diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Carrageenan
  • Chlorophyll / pharmacology*
  • Chlorophyll / therapeutic use
  • Chlorophyll A
  • Chromolaena
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Edema / drug therapy
  • Eupatorium
  • Formaldehyde
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Mice
  • Moraceae
  • NF-kappa B / biosynthesis
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / metabolism
  • Pheophytins / pharmacology*
  • Pheophytins / therapeutic use
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • NF-kappa B
  • Pheophytins
  • Plant Extracts
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Chlorophyll
  • Formaldehyde
  • chlorophyll b
  • pheophytin a
  • Carrageenan
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate
  • Chlorophyll A