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J Pharm Pharmacol. 2008 Apr;60(4):473-8. doi: 10.1211/jpp.60.4.0010.

Anti-inflammatory effects of red pepper (Capsicum baccatum) on carrageenan- and antigen-induced inflammation.

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Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil.


Inflammation is a pivotal component of a variety of diseases, such as atherosclerosis and tumour progression. Various naturally occurring phytochemicals exhibit anti-inflammatory activity and are considered to be potential drug candidates against inflammation-related pathological processes. Capsicum baccatum L. var. pendulum (Willd.) Eshbaugh (Solanaceae) is the most consumed species in Brazil, and its compounds, such as capsaicinoids, have been found to inhibit the inflammatory process. However, the anti-inflammatory effects of C. baccatum have not been characterized. Thus, this study was designed to evaluate the effects of C. baccatum juice in animal models of acute inflammation induced by carrageenan and immune inflammation induced by methylated bovine serum albumin. Pretreatment (30 min) of rats with pepper juice (0.25-2.0 g kg(-1)) significantly decreased leucocyte and neutrophil migration, exudate volume and protein and LDH concentration in pleural exudates of a pleurisy model. This juice also inhibited neutrophil migration and reduced the vascular permeability on carrageenan-induced peritonitis in mice. C. baccatum juice also reduced neutrophil recruitment and exudate levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-1beta in mouse inflammatory immune peritonitis. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the main constituent of C. baccatum juice, as extracted with chloroform, is capsaicin. In agreement with this, capsaicin was able to inhibit the neutrophil migration towards the inflammatory focus. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of the anti-inflammatory effect of C. baccatum juice and our data suggest that this effect may be induced by capsaicin. Moreover, the anti-inflammatory effect induced by red pepper may be by inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokine production at the inflammatory site.

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