Effect of phospholipid-based formulations of Boswellia serrata extract on the solubility, permeability, and absorption of the individual boswellic acid constituents present

J Nat Prod. 2012 Oct 26;75(10):1675-82. doi: 10.1021/np300009w. Epub 2012 Sep 26.


Boswellia serrata gum resin extracts are used widely for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. However, very low concentrations in the plasma and brain were observed for the boswellic acids (1-6, the active constituents of B. serrata). The present study investigated the effect of phospholipids alone and in combination with common co-surfactants (e.g., Tween 80, vitamin E-TPGS, pluronic f127) on the solubility of 1-6 in physiologically relevant media and on the permeability in the Caco-2 cell model. Because of the high lipophilicity of 1-6, the permeability experiments were adapted to physiological conditions using modified fasted state simulated intestinal fluid as apical (donor) medium and 4% bovine serum albumin in the basolateral (receiver) compartment. A formulation composed of extract/phospholipid/pluronic f127 (1:1:1 w/w/w) increased the solubility of 1-6 up to 54 times compared with the nonformulated extract and exhibited the highest mass net flux in the permeability tests. The oral administration of this formulation to rats (240 mg/kg) resulted in 26 and 14 times higher plasma levels for 11-keto-β-boswellic acid (1) and acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid (2), respectively. In the brain, five times higher levels for 2 compared to the nonformulated extract were determined 8 h after oral administration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption / drug effects
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Boswellia / chemistry*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Permeability / drug effects
  • Phospholipids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Poloxamer / analysis
  • Poloxamer / pharmacokinetics
  • Polysorbates / analysis
  • Polysorbates / pharmacokinetics
  • Rats
  • Solubility / drug effects
  • Time Factors
  • Triterpenes / analysis
  • Triterpenes / blood
  • Triterpenes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Vitamin E / analysis
  • Vitamin E / pharmacokinetics


  • 11-keto-boswellic acid
  • Phospholipids
  • Polysorbates
  • Triterpenes
  • acetyl-11-ketoboswellic acid
  • Poloxamer
  • Vitamin E
  • boswellic acid