Alpha-phellandrene promotes immune responses in normal mice through enhancing macrophage phagocytosis and natural killer cell activities

In Vivo. 2013 Nov-Dec;27(6):809-14.


α-Phellandrene, a natural compound from natural plants, has been used in the food and perfume industry. We investigated the effects of α-phellandrene on the immune responses on normal murine cells in vivo. Normal BALB/c mice were treated orally with or without α-phellandrene at 0, 1, 5 and 25 mg/kg and olive oil as a positive control for two weeks. Results indicated that α-phellandrene did not change the weight of animals when compared to olive oil (vehicle for α-phellandrene)-treated groups. After flow cytometric assay of blood samples it was shown that α-phellandrene increased the percentage of CD3 (T-cell marker), CD11b (monocytes) and MAC3 (macrophages), but reduced the percentage of CD19 (B-cell marker) cell surface markers in α-phellandrene-treated groups, compared to untreated groups. α-Phellandrene promoted the phagocytosis of macrophages from blood samples at 5 and 25 mg/kg treatment and promoted natural killer cell activity from splenocytes at 25 mg/kg. Furthermore, α-phellandrene increased B-cell proliferation at 25 mg/kg with or without stimulation but promoted cell proliferation only at 25 mg/kg treatment with stimulation. Based on these observations, 25 mg/kg with α-phellandrene seems to have promoted immune responses in this murine model.

Keywords: BALB/c mice; macrophage; natural killer cells; phagocytosis; α-Phellandrene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD19 / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / drug effects
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / drug effects
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / drug effects
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects*


  • Antigens, CD19
  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Monoterpenes
  • alpha phellandrene