Combination of spices and herbal extract restores macrophage foam cell migration and abrogates the athero-inflammatory signalling cascade of atherogenesis

Vascul Pharmacol. 2015 Sep:72:53-63. doi: 10.1016/j.vph.2015.02.014. Epub 2015 Apr 11.


The trapping of lipid-laden macrophages in the arterial intima is a critical but reversible step in atherogenesis. However, information about possible treatments for this condition is lacking. Here, we hypothesized that combining the polyphenol-rich fractions (PHC) of commonly consumed spices (Allium sativum L (Liliaceae), Zingiber officinale R (Zingiberaceae), Curcuma longa L (Zingiberaceae)) and herbs (Terminalia arjuna (R) W & A (Combretaceae) and Cyperus rotundus L (Cyperaceae)) prevents foam cell formation and atherogenesis. Using an in vitro foam cell formation assay, we found that PHC significantly inhibited lipid-laden macrophage foam cell formation compared to the depleted polyphenol fraction of PHC (F-PHC). We further observed that PHC attenuated the LDL and LPS induced CD36, p-FAK and PPAR-γ protein expression in macrophages and increased their migration. NK-κB-DNA interaction, TNF-α, ROS generation, and MMP9 and MMP2 protein expression were suppressed in PHC-treated macrophages. The anti-atherosclerotic activity of PHC was investigated in a high fat- and cholesterol-fed rabbit model. The inhibition of foam cell deposition within the aortic intima and atheroma formation confirmed the atheroprotective activity of PHC. Therefore, we conclude that the armoury of polyphenols in PHC attenuates the CD36 signalling cascade-mediated foam cell formation, enhances the migration of these cells and prevents atherogenesis.

Keywords: Allium sativum; Anti-atherosclerotic; Macrophages foam cell; Polyphenols; Terminalia arjuna.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Foam Cells / drug effects*
  • Foam Cells / metabolism
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / metabolism
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / drug therapy
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / metabolism
  • Polyphenols / chemistry
  • Rabbits
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Spices
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Tunica Intima / drug effects
  • Tunica Intima / metabolism


  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyphenols
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Cholesterol