Chemical Composition and Immuno-Modulatory Effects of Urtica dioica L. (Stinging Nettle) Extracts

Phytother Res. 2017 Aug;31(8):1183-1191. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5836. Epub 2017 May 24.


The purpose of this work was to determine the chemical profile of stinging nettle and to provide an insight into the mechanisms by which it ameliorates the immune response. Qualitative and quantitative liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry analyses indicated that phenolic acids (5-O-caffeoylquinic acid as dominant) and flavonol glycosides (rutin, isoquercitrin, and kaempferol 3-O-glucoside) are present in the aerial parts, while lignans (secoisolariciresinol, 9,9'-bisacetyl-neo-olivil and their glucosides) were detected in the root. Herb and root extracts expressed selective inhibition toward cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase branches in human platelets: root extracts were better at inhibiting thromboxane production, while herb extracts were more specific toward inhibition of 12-lipoxygenase pathway. Stinging nettle extracts mildly increased monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and growth-related oncogene release from nonstimulated intestinal epithelial cells, stimulating MyD88/NF-κB/p38 signaling, hence preserving the epithelial integrity and enhancing intestinal steady-state defense. Additionally, root extract reduced lipopolysaccharide-induced monocyte chemoattractant protein-1/growth-related oncogene secretion and cyclooxygenase-2 expression in intestinal epithelial cells, thus showing the potential protective effect against tissue damage caused by inflammation processes. These observations suggest that stinging nettle is an interesting candidate for the development of phytopharmaceuticals or dietary supplements for cotreatment of various inflammatory diseases, particularly inflammatory bowel diseases. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: LC-MS/MS; Urtica dioica; eicosanoids; intestinal epithelial cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonate 12-Lipoxygenase / metabolism
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects*
  • Cell Line
  • Chemokine CCL2 / metabolism
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hydroxybenzoates / chemistry
  • Lignans / chemistry
  • Lignans / pharmacology
  • Lipoxygenase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Lipoxygenase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Plant Components, Aerial / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Rats
  • Urtica dioica / chemistry*


  • CCL2 protein, human
  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Hydroxybenzoates
  • Lignans
  • Lipoxygenase Inhibitors
  • MYD88 protein, human
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88
  • NF-kappa B
  • Plant Extracts
  • Arachidonate 12-Lipoxygenase
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • phenolic acid