Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Crocus sativus on Serum Cytokine Levels in Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo- Controlled Trial

Curr Clin Pharmacol. 2017;12(2):122-126. doi: 10.2174/1574884712666170622082737.


Background/aims: A growing body of evidence supports an important role of inflammatory cytokines in the development and progression of the Metabolic Syndrome (MetS), which explains, at least in part, its relationship with an increased cardiovascular-risk. Several studies have reported the therapeutic-impact of crocus-sativus in a preclinical/clinical setting. Here we have explored the effects of crocus-sativus, on the serum concentrations of twelve serum cytokines in subjects with MetS in a randomized control trial.

Methods: Forty four adult volunteers, who met the diagnostic-criteria of MetS, were enrolled and randomly divided into 2 groups, to receive 100 mg/day crocus-sativus for 12 weeks. 12 cytokines, including IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, TNF-α, MCP-1, IFN-γ, EGF, and VEGF were measured using sandwich chemi-luminescence assays before/after therapy.

Results: Individuals with MetS who received crocus-sativus had significantly (P<0.05) lower levels of total-cholesterol, low density-lipoprotein-cholesterol and triglyceride (TG), fasting-blood-sugar and hsCRP, however the serum concentration of high density-lipoprotein-cholesterol markedly enhanced after therapy (e.g., TG level reduced from 148.86±71.49 to 101.90±38.19 after therapy, P= 0.003). Moreover, we observed that treatment with Crocus-sativus affected the serumconcentrations of some pro-/anti-inflamatory cytokines. In particular, the level of VEGF was increased from 12.64 pg/mL (95% CI: 9.60-17.67) to 16.59 (95% CI: 11.33-35.98, P= 0.033. Similar results were detected for IL-6 and EGF.

Conclusion: Our findings provide a novel insight into the therapeutic effects of this therapy in MetS patients via perturbation of serum cytokines and reducing the levels of triglyceride and LDL/TC, but further studies are required in larger populations.

Keywords: Crocus sativus; Saffron; cytokines; inflammatory effect; metabolic syndrome; therapy..

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Crocus / chemistry*
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Lipids
  • Plant Extracts