Asthma is characterized by chronic inflammation, goblet cell hyperplasia, the aberrant production of the Th2 cytokines, and eosinophil infiltration into the lungs. In this study, we examined the effects of baicalein, wogonin, and Scutellaria baicalensis ethanol extract on ovalbumin (OVA)-induced asthma by evaluating Th1/Th2 cytokine levels, histopathologic analysis, and compound 48/80-induced systemic anaphylaxis and mast cell activation, focusing on the histamine release from rat peritoneal mast cells. Baicalein, wogonin, and S. baicalensis ethanol extract also decreased the number of inflammatory cells especially eosinophils and downregulated peribronchial and perivascular inflammation in the lungs of mice challenged by OVA. Baicalein, wogonin, and S. baicalensis ethanol extract significantly reduced the levels of tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-4, IL-5 and the production of OVA-specific IgE and IgG1, and upregulated the level of interferon-γ and OVA-specific IgG2a. In addition, oral administration of baicalein, wogonin, and S. baicalensis ethanol extract inhibited compound 48/80-induced systemic anaphylaxis and plasma histamine release in mice. Moreover, baicalein, wogonin, and S. baicalensis ethanol extract suppressed compound 48/80-induced mast cell degranulation and histamine release from rat peritoneal mast cells. Conclusively, baicalein and wogonin as major flavonoids of S. baicalensis may have therapeutic potential for allergic asthma through modulation of Th1/Th2 cytokine imbalance and histamine release from mast cells.
Keywords: Baicalein; OVA-specific IgE/IgG1/IgG2a; Scutellaria baicalensis; Th1/Th2 cytokine imbalance; Wogonin.