Wild bitter melon (Momordica charantia Linn. var. abbreviata Ser.) extract and its bioactive components suppress Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation

Food Chem. 2012 Dec 1;135(3):976-84. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.05.045. Epub 2012 May 22.


In this study, we aimed to evaluate the inhibitory effect of wild bitter melons (WBM; Momordica charantia Linn. var. abbreviata Ser.) on Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation and to identify the bioactive components. Our results showed that ethyl acetate (EA) extract of WBM fruit in vitro potently suppressed pro-inflammatory cytokine and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 levels in P. acnes-stimulated THP-1 cells. Furthermore, concomitant intradermal injection of WBM EA extract in mice effectively attenuated P. acnes-induced ear swelling and granulomatous inflammation. To further investigate the bioactive components, we found that both saponifiable (S) and nonsaponifiable (NS) fractions of WBM EA extract significantly suppressed pro-inflammatory cytokine and MMP-9 levels. Phytol and lutein, identified in the NS fraction, also inhibited cytokine production. Moreover, S and NS fractions of EA extract, phytol and lutein, activated peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) α and β in the transactivation assay. Our results suggested that PPARα or PPARγ signalling may contribute, at least in part, to the anti-inflammatory activity of WBM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Momordica charantia / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Propionibacterium acnes / immunology*
  • Propionibacterium acnes / physiology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Plant Extracts