Evening Primrose oil is a natural product extracted by cold-pressed from Oenothera biennis L. seeds. The unsaponifiable matter of this oil is an important source of interesting minor compounds, like long-chain fatty alcohols, sterols and tocopherols. In the present study, sterols were isolated from the unsaponifiable matter of Evening Primrose oil, and the composition was identified and quantified by GC and GC-MS. The major components of sterols fraction were β-Sitosterol and campesterol. We investigated the ability of sterols from Evening Primrose oil to inhibit the release of different proinflammatory mediators in vitro by murine peritoneal macrophages stimulated with lipopolysaccharide. Sterols significantly and dose-dependently decreased nitric oxide production. Western blot analysis showed that nitric oxide reduction was a consequence of the inhibition of inducible nitric oxide synthetase expression. Sterols also reduced tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukine 1β and tromboxane B₂. However, sterols did not reduce prostaglandin E₂. The reduction of eicosanoid release was related to the inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 expression. These results showed that sterols may have a protective effect on some mediators involved in inflammatory damage development, suggesting its potential value as a putative functional component of Evening Primrose oil.
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