Expanding the anti-inflammatory potential of Moringa oleifera: topical effect of seed oil on skin inflammation and hyperproliferation

J Ethnopharmacol. 2020 May 23;254:112708. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2020.112708. Epub 2020 Mar 4.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Popularly used in India and sub-Hymalaian region, Moringa oleifera (Moringaceae) is associated with healing properties demonstrated in its use as treatment of acute and chronic skin diseases. Our study aimed at investigating the effects of M. oleifera seed oil (MOSO) in animal models for inflammatory and hyperproliferative skin conditions.

Materials and methods: MOSO was analyzed using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. The anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperproliferative effects of treatment with either MOSO or oleic acid (OA), its main constituent, was evaluated. Acute and chronic inflammation was induced by applying 12-O-Tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) and acute inflammation with either Arachidonic Acid (AA) or Phenol onto the ear of Swiss mice. Systemic activity and the influence of glucocorticoid receptors (GC) was also evaluated.

Results: Topical application of MOSO and OA inhibited ear edema caused by TPA, and Phenol. Only MOSO inhibited ear edema induced by AA. Neutrophil migration was also inhibited by treatment with MOSO. Topical application of MOSO, but not OA, significantly reduced chronic skin inflammation and epidermal hypertrophy induced by multiple TPA applications. Pre-treatment with GC antagonist mifepristone reversed the anti-inflammatory effect of MOSO and OA on the TPA model. Repeated administration of MOSO show a similar effect to dexamethasone on thymus weight, though MOSO did not present any influence on skin thickness, as well as in the weight of the spleen, adrenal gland and lymph node.

Conclusion: The results suggest that MOSO is effective as a treatment for skin diseases that rely on keratinocyte hyperproliferation. OA is also effective in acute inflammation. Both MOSO and OA depend on GC activation for anti-inflammatory effect but do not exhibit the same adverse effects seen in topical treatment with dexamethasone. We hereby evidence the use of MOSO as a topical anti-inflammatory agent in inflammatory skin diseases, thus, expanding its therapeutic potential.

Keywords: Ben oil; Dermatitis; Glucocorticoid; Moringa oleifera; Oleic acid.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Atrophy / drug therapy
  • Atrophy / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Dermatitis, Contact / drug therapy*
  • Dermatitis, Contact / metabolism
  • Edema / drug therapy
  • Edema / metabolism
  • Female
  • Irritants
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects
  • Lymph Nodes / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Moringa oleifera*
  • Oleic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism
  • Seeds
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / pathology
  • Spleen / drug effects
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate
  • Thymus Gland / drug effects


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Irritants
  • Plant Oils
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Oleic Acid
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate