Clove and eugenol in noncytotoxic concentrations exert immunomodulatory/anti-inflammatory action on cytokine production by murine macrophages

J Pharm Pharmacol. 2012 Apr;64(4):610-6. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.2011.01440.x. Epub 2012 Feb 7.


Objectives: The extract and essential oil of clove (Syzygium aromaticum) are widely used because of their medicinal properties. Eugenol is the most important component of clove, showing several biological properties. Herein we have analysed the immunomodulatory/anti-inflammatory effect of clove and eugenol on cytokine production (interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6 and IL-10) in vitro.

Methods: Macrophages were incubated with clove or eugenol (5, 10, 25, 50 or 100µg/well) for 24h. Concentrations that inhibited the production of cytokines were used before or after incubation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), to verify a preventive or therapeutic effect. Culture supernatants were harvested for measurement of cytokines by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Key findings: Clove (100µg/well) inhibited IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-10 production and exerted an efficient action either before or after LPS challenge for all cytokines. Eugenol did not affect IL-1β production but inhibited IL-6 and IL-10 production. The action of eugenol (50 or 100µg/well) on IL-6 production prevented efficiently effects of LPS either before or after its addition, whereas on IL-10 production it counteracted significantly LPS action when added after LPS incubation.

Conclusions: Clove exerted immunomodulatory/anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting LPS action. A possible mechanism of action probably involved the suppression of the nuclear factor-κB pathway by eugenol, since it was the major compound found in clove extract.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Eugenol / administration & dosage
  • Eugenol / pharmacology*
  • Immunologic Factors / administration & dosage
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / drug effects
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Oils, Volatile / administration & dosage
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Syzygium / chemistry*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Eugenol