Pro-inflammatory cytokine molecules from Boswellia serrate suppresses lipopolysaccharides induced inflammation demonstrated in an in-vivo zebrafish larval model

Mol Biol Rep. 2022 Aug;49(8):7425-7435. doi: 10.1007/s11033-022-07544-5. Epub 2022 Jun 18.


Background: Boswellia serrate is an ancient and highly valued ayurvedic herb. Its extracts have been used in medicine for centuries to treat a wide variety of chronic inflammatory diseases. However, the mechanism by which B. serrata hydro alcoholic extract inhibited pro-inflammatory cytokines in zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae with LPS-induced inflammation remained unknown.

Methods: LC-MS analysis was used to investigate the extract's phytochemical components. To determine the toxicity of B. serrata extract, cytotoxicity and embryo toxicity tests were performed. The in-vivo zebrafish larvae model was used to evaluate the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of B. serrata extract.

Results: According to an in silico study using molecular docking and ADMET, the compounds acetyl-11-keto-boswellic and 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid present in the extract had higher binding affinity for the inflammatory specific receptor, and it is predicted to be an orally active molecule. In both in-vitro L6 cells and in-vivo zebrafish larvae, 160 µg/mL concentration of extract caused a high rate of lethality. The extract was found to have a protective effect against LPS-induced inflammation at concentrations ranged between 10 and 80 µg/mL. In zebrafish larvae, 80 µg/mL of treatment significantly lowered the level of intracellular ROS, apoptosis, lipid peroxidation, and nitric oxide. Similarly, zebrafish larvae treated with B. serrata extract (80 µg/mL) showed an increased anti-inflammatory activity by lowering inflammatory specific gene expression (iNOS, TNF-α, COX-2, and IL-1).

Conclusions: Overall, our findings suggest that B. serrata can act as a potent redox scavenger against LPS-induced inflammation in zebrafish larvae and an inhibitor of specific inflammatory genes.

Keywords: 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid; Acetyl-11-keto-boswellic; Anti-inflammation; Boswellia serrata; Pro-inflammatory cytokines; Zebrafish model.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Boswellia* / chemistry
  • Cytokines / therapeutic use
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Larva
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Triterpenes* / chemistry
  • Zebrafish


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Plant Extracts
  • Triterpenes