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Home > Newsletters > November 2008 > Recent Research

Points - Recent Research

Chinese Herbal Formula May Be Helpful for Peanut Allergies

Astragalus Polysaccharides: An Effective Treatment for Diabetes Prevention in NOD Mice

Characterization of Anti-Estrogenic Activity of the Chinese Herb, Prunella vulgaris, Using In Vitro and In Vivo


Chinese Herbal Formula May Be Helpful for Peanut Allergies

C. Qu, K. Srivastava, X.-M. Li, et al. "Induction of tolerance after establishment of peanut allergy by the food allergy herbal formula-2 is associated with up-regulation of interferon-γ."

A study in mice shows that a Chinese herbal formula may help prevent dangerous reactions to peanuts. Peanut allergies affect as many as 6 percent of young children and are a major cause of anaphylaxis—a severe allergic reaction with respiratory symptoms that can be fatal.

Xiu-Min Li and colleagues at Mount Sinai School of Medicine conducted experiments in mice with established peanut allergies to see if a formula of nine Chinese herbs, called FAHF-2, could reduce sensitivity to peanuts. The peanut-sensitive mice received 7 weeks of oral treatment with FAHF-2 or water as a placebo treatment.

The mice were then exposed to peanuts to see if they would have anaphylactic reactions. They were exposed twice—once one day following the conclusion of FAHF-2 treatment and again 4 weeks after treatment finished.

The researchers found that FAHF-2 completely protected the mice from a dangerous reaction on both occasions—showing that protection lasted at least 4 weeks after the treatment finished. The mice treated with the placebo (water) had anaphylactic reactions. The researchers note that the protection of FAHF-2 may result from a shift in the immune balance away from the allergic response.

Clinical and Experimental Allergy, June 2007.

Source: PubMed

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Astragalus Polysaccharides: An Effective Treatment for Diabetes Prevention in NOD Mice

Chen W, et al. Department of Geriatrics, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University of Shangai, China.

BACKGROUND: Type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic autoimmune disease that is related to the disequilibrium state of Th1 and Th2 subgroups of helper T lymphocyte (Th) and their cytokines. Astragalus polysaccharides (APS) are bioactive components extracted from one of the traditional Chinese herbs, used to enhance the function of human immune system. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effects of APS on preventing type 1 DM and Th1/Th2-subtype cytokines, we compared the results of administration of APS and normal saline (NS) on non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: APS or NS was administered to 4-week-old mice at a dose of 2.0 g/kg per day for 10 weeks. At 40 weeks, blood glucose, serum C-peptide (C-P) and GAD antibody were measured; pancreas was examined histologically; the intra-islet lymphocyte infiltration and T lymphocyte subsets in the spleen were analysed; the gene expression of IL-1 beta, IL-2, IL-6, IL-12, TNF-alpha, INF-gamma, IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, TGF-beta, Bcl-2, SOD, Fas and iNOS were measured by RT-PCR. RESULTS: The results showed that APS-administered NOD mice had a lower incidence rate of type 1 DM, lower serum C-P level, better histologic findings of pancreatic islets, and a lower D4+/CD8+ ratio of T lymphocytes from the spleen and the infiltrated islets. RT-PCR analysis showed gene expression levels are lower in IL-1 beta, IL-2, IL-6, IL-12, TNF-alpha, INF-gamma, Fas, iNOS, and higher in IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, TGF-beta, Bcl-2, SOD in the pancreatic tissue from APS-administered NOD mice as compared to the NS group. CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrated the effects of Astragalus polysaccharides on the prevention of type 1 DM in NOD mice by correcting the imbalance between the Th1/Th2 cytokines.

Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2008 Aug;116(8):468-74.

Source: PubMed

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Characterization of Anti-Estrogenic Activity of the Chinese Herb, Prunella vulgaris, Using In Vitro and In Vivo

Collins NH, Lessey EC, Dusell CD, McDonnell DP, Fowler L, Palomino WA, Illera MJ, Yu X, Mo B, Houwing A, Lessey BA.

Prunella vulgaris (PV), a commonly used Chinese herb, also known as Self-heal, has a wide range of reported medicinal activities. By screening multiple herbs using the endometrial cancer cell line ECC-1 and an alkaline phosphatase detection assay, we found PV displayed significant anti-estrogenic activity. We investigated the possible usefulness of anti-estrogenic activity using both in vitro and in vivo models of endometrial function. Using the well-differentiated hormone responsive endometrial cell line, ECC-1, PV extract at concentrations that were not toxic to the cells significantly reduced alkaline phosphatase activity and cell proliferation in response to estrogen in a dose-dependent manner. The expression of CYR61, an estrogen induced protein, was blocked in ECC-1 cells by both the anti-estrogen ICI 182,780 and PV extract. Interestingly, PV extract did not appear to directly inhibit estrogen signaling. Rather we found that its activities were probably related to in ability to function as an aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) agonist in ECC-1 cells. In support of this hypothesis we noted that PV induced CYP1A1, CYP1B1, and AHR repressor expression in a dose-dependent manner; responses that were blocked by both siRNA treatment to reduce AHR and specific AHR antagonists. Ovariectomized immunodeficient RAG-2/gamma(c) knockout mice implanted with human endometrial xenografts developed implants only when treated with estrogen. Mice treated with estrogen and PV tea in their drinking water had fewer and smaller xenograft implants compared to their estrogen-treated counterparts that drank only water (P < 0.05). Analysis of the resulting implants by immunohistochemistry demonstrated persistent estrogen receptor (ESR1) but reduced proliferation and CYR61 expression. Mouse uterine tissue weight in PV-treated mice was not different from controls and cycle fecundity of intact C57 female mice was unaffected by PV tea treatment. Prunella vulgaris or Self-heal exhibits significant anti-estrogenic properties both in vitro and in vivo. This activity is likely due to the ability of PV activated AHR to interfere with ER-signaling. This herb may be useful as an adjunct for the treatment of estrogen-dependent processes like endometriosis and breast and uterine cancers. Full characterization of this herb will likely provide new insights into the crosstalk between AHR and ESR1, with potential for therapeutic applications for women.

Biol Reprod. 2008 Oct 15.

Source: PubMed

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This Month's Articles

November 2008
Volume 6, Number 11

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