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J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Oct 31;144(1):182-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.08.049. Epub 2012 Sep 7.

Illicium verum extract inhibits TNF-α- and IFN-γ-induced expression of chemokines and cytokines in human keratinocytes.

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Department of Biochemistry, College of Natural Sciences, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 305-764, Republic of Korea.



Illicium verum Hook. f. (star anise) has been used in traditional medicine for treatment of skin inflammation, rheumatism, asthma, and bronchitis. This study investigated the anti-inflammatory effects of Illicium verum extract (IVE) in the human keratinocyte HaCaT cell line.


We investigated the effectiveness of IVE in tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)/interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-induced human keratinocytes. To measure the effects of IVE on chemokine and pro-inflammatory cytokine expression in HaCaT cells, we used the following methods: cell viability assay, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, western blotting, and luciferase reporter assay.


IVE inhibited the expression of TNF-α/IFN-γ-induced mRNA and protein expression of thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC/CCL17), macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC/CCL22), interleukin (IL)-6, and IL-1β. Furthermore, IVE decreased TNF-α/IFN-γ-induced mRNA expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1). IVE inhibited nuclear factor (NF)-κB translocation into the nucleus, as well as phosphorylation and degradation of IκBα. IVE inhibited TNF-α/IFN-γ-induced NF-κB and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)1 activation in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, IVE significantly inhibited activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), and Akt. Furthermore, IVE contained 2.14% trans-anethole and possessed significant anti-inflammatory activities.


IVE exerts anti-inflammatory effects by suppressing the expression of TNF-α/IFN-γ-induced chemokines, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and adhesion molecules via blockade of NF-κB, STAT1, MAPK, and Akt activation, suggesting that IVE may be a useful therapeutic candidate for inflammatory skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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