Phytol, a Chlorophyll Component, Produces Antihyperalgesic, Anti-inflammatory, and Antiarthritic Effects: Possible NFκB Pathway Involvement and Reduced Levels of the Proinflammatory Cytokines TNF-α and IL-6

J Nat Prod. 2020 Apr 24;83(4):1107-1117. doi: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.9b01116. Epub 2020 Feb 24.


Phytol is a diterpene constituent of chlorophyll and has been shown to have several pharmacological properties, particularly in relation to the management of painful inflammatory diseases. Arthritis is one of the most common of these inflammatory diseases, mainly affecting the synovial membrane, cartilage, and bone in joints. Proinflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-α and IL-6, and the NFκB signaling pathway play a pivotal role in arthritis. However, as the mechanisms of action of phytol and its ability to reduce the levels of these cytokines are poorly understood, we decided to investigate its pharmacological effects using a mouse model of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA)-induced arthritis. Our results showed that phytol was able to inhibit joint swelling and hyperalgesia throughout the whole treatment period. Moreover, phytol reduced myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity and proinflammatory cytokine release in synovial fluid and decreased IL-6 production as well as the COX-2 immunocontent in the spinal cord. It also downregulated the p38MAPK and NFκB signaling pathways. Therefore, our findings demonstrated that phytol can be an innovative antiarthritic agent due to its capacity to attenuate inflammatory reactions in joints and the spinal cord, mainly through the modulation of mediators that are key to the establishment of arthritic pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • Chlorophyll / pharmacology
  • Chlorophyll / therapeutic use
  • Cytokines / chemistry
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Edema / drug therapy
  • Freund's Adjuvant / chemistry*
  • Freund's Adjuvant / pharmacology
  • Hyperalgesia / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / chemistry
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Structure
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Phytol / metabolism
  • Phytol / pharmacology*
  • Phytol / therapeutic use*
  • Synovial Membrane / drug effects
  • Synovial Membrane / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / chemistry
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • NF-kappa B
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Chlorophyll
  • Phytol
  • Freund's Adjuvant