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Int J Mol Med. 2016 May;37(5):1221-8. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2016.2541. Epub 2016 Mar 28.

Erythronium japonicum attenuates histopathological lung abnormalities in a mouse model of ovalbumin-induced asthma.

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Department of Oriental Medicine Materials, Dongshin University, Naju, Jeonnam 58245, Republic of Korea.
R&D Team, Jeonnam Bioindustry Foundation, Food Research Institute (JBF-FRI), Naju, Jeonnam 58275, Republic of Korea.
Department of Physical Therapy, Dongshin University, Naju, Jeonnam 58245, Republic of Korea.
College of Pharmacy, Mokpo National University, Mokpo, Jeonnam 588554, Republic of Korea.


Asthma is a chronic lung condition that can induce mucus hypersecretion and pulmonary obstruction and may even cause death, particularly in children and older individuals. Erythronium japonicum (E. japonicum) is a traditional herb used in Korea and East Asian countries that has been found to exert free radical scavenging activity and anti-proliferative effects in human colorectal carcinoma cells. In the present study, we evaluated the anti-asthmatic effects of an extract of E. japonicum in a mouse model of ovalbumin (OVA)‑induced asthma. Female BALB/c mice were sensitized with an intraperitoneal injection of OVA and aluminum hydroxide hydrate on days 1 and 8 and then received the following treatments on days 21 to 25: i) control (no treatment), ii) sterilized tap water (given orally), iii) 1 mg/kg/day dexamethasone (administered orally), iv) 60 mg/kg/day E. japonicum extract, and v) 600 mg/kg/day E. japonicum extract. On the same days, all the mice except those in the control group were challenged 1 h later with nebulized 5% OVA for 30 min. We found that treatment with E. japonicum extract suppressed the OVA-induced increase in the number of white blood cells and decreased the IgE level in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid samples obtained from the mice. Histopathological analysis of the lung tissues revealed that E. japonicum attenuated the asthma-related morphological changes in the mouse lung tissue, including the increased secretion of mucus in the bronchioles, eosinophil infiltration around the bronchioles and vessels, and goblet cell and epithelial cell hyperplasia. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that treatment with E. japonicum extract suppressed the OVA-induced proliferation of T helper cells (CD4+) and B cells (CD19+) in the mouse lung tissue. Furthermore, treatment with E. japonicum extract modulated the expression of both T helper 2 cell-related factors [GATA binding protein 3 (GATA-3), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF‑α), interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, IL-6 and IL-13], as well as that of T helper 1 cell-related factors [(interferon-γ (IFN-γ), IL-12p35 and IL-12p40]. These findings suggest that E. japonicum may potentially be used as an anti-asthmatic treatment.

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