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Phytother Res. 2010 Jun;24(6):900-4. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3051.

The efficacy of Echinacea in a 3-D tissue model of human airway epithelium.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


We evaluated the antirhinovirus efficacy of a standardized preparation of Echinacea purpurea (Echinaforce) in a 3-dimensional organotypic model of normal human airway epithelium (EpiAirway tissue). Individual replicate tissue samples, maintained as inserts in culture for 3 days or 3 weeks, were infected with rhinovirus type 1A (RV1A), Echinacea alone, a combination of the two, or medium only. None of the treatments affected the histological appearance or integrity of the tissues, all of which maintained a high level of cell viability and preservation of cilia. RV infection resulted in increased mucopolysaccharide inclusions in the goblet cells, but this feature was reversed by Echinacea treatment. This result was confirmed by measurements of mucin secretion, which was stimulated by RV but reversed by Echinacea, suggesting that mucus production during colds could be ameliorated by Echinacea. We did not find evidence of virus replication, although the RV-infected tissues secreted substantial amounts of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8 (CXCL8), and this response was reversed by Echinacea treatment. These results confirmed previous findings derived from studies of bronchial and lung epithelial cell lines, namely, that RV infection results in a substantial inflammatory response in the absence of virus replication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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