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Int Immunopharmacol. 2002 Feb;2(2-3):381-7.

Alkylamides of Echinacea purpurea stimulate alveolar macrophage function in normal rats.

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  • 1Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


Echinacea plant extract is widely used for the prevention and the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections. However, the active components in the herb, their optimal dosages and their in vivo effects are still undefined. Using male Sprague-Dawley rats (425-475 g), an in vivo study was conducted to examine the immunomodulatory effects of various dose levels of three components, isolated and purified from Echinacea purpurea. The components were cichoric acid, polysaccharides and alkylamides. The rats were gavaged orally two times/day for 4 days with three different concentrations of each of the Echinacea components. Among the components, alkylamides at the dose level of 12 microg/kg body weight/day significantly increased the phagocytic activity as well as phagocytic index of the alveolar macrophages. The alveolar macrophages obtained from this group of rats also produced significantly more TNF-alpha and nitric oxide after an in vitro stimulation with LPS than any other active component or the control. None of the components at any concentration had any effect on the release of TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma and IL-2 by the splenocytes. These results suggest that the alkylamides are one of the active constituents of E. purpurea plant. At a dose level of approximately 12 microg/kg body weight/day they effectively stimulate alveolar macrophage function in healthy rats. The immunomodulatory effects of alkylamides appear to be more pronounced in lungs than in spleen.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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