Ethnopharmacological relevance: Food allergy, which accompanies acute symptoms such as pruritus, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethal anaphylactic shock is an increasing clinical problem. Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi) has been widely used as a traditional herbal medicine to treat inflammation, cancer, and allergy, but its effects in treating food allergy are not yet known.
Materials and methods: To examine the effect of skullcap on food allergy, female BALB/c mice were sensitized with 20 μg OVA and 2mg alum by intraperitoneal injection on day 0. From day 17, mice were orally challenged with OVA (50 mg) in saline every 3 days, for a total of six times. To investigate the preventive effect, skullcap (25 mg/kg) was orally administered every day from day 17 to 34.
Results: Food allergy symptoms were evaluated by the criteria for diarrhea, anaphylactic response, and rectal temperature. Severe symptoms of food allergy were observed in the sham group (diarrhea, 3 points; anaphylactic response, 2.6 points; rectal temperature, -8.36 °C. In contrast, the skullcap treatment group had a significantly suppressed OVA-induced anaphylactic response (1.3 points) and rectal temperature (-4.76°C). Moreover, both OVA-specific IgE, Th17 cytokine (IL-17), and Th2-related cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, and IL-13), which increased with food allergy, were significantly inhibited by skullcap treatment.
Conclusion: We demonstrate that the administration of skullcap attenuates OVA-induced food allergy symptoms through regulating systemic immune responses of Th cells. These results indicate that skullcap may be a potential candidate as a preventive agent for food allergy.
Keywords: Food allergy; IL-17; IgE; OVA; Skullcap; Th2 cytokines.
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