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J Med Food. 2018 Jan;21(1):21-29. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2017.3994. Epub 2017 Nov 21.

Sea Cucumber Lipid-Soluble Extra Fraction Prevents Ovalbumin-Induced Allergic Airway Inflammation.

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1 Department of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine, School of Medicine, Pusan National University , Yangsan-si, Republic of Korea.
2 Immunoregulatory Therapeutics Group in Brain Busan 21 Project , Yangsan-si, Republic of Korea.
3 Department of Marine Biology and Aquaculture, Gyeonsang National University , Tongyeong, Republic of Korea.
4 SJ Bio Company , Tongyeong, Republic of Korea.


In a previous study, our research group demonstrated that sea cucumber (Apostichopus japonicus) extracts ameliorated allergic airway inflammation through CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T (regulatory T; Treg) cell activation and recruitment to the lung. In this study, we aimed to determine which components of sea cucumber contribute to the amelioration of airway inflammation. We used n-hexane fractionation to separate sea cucumber into three phases (n-hexane, alcohol, and solid) and evaluated the ability of each phase to elevate Il10 expression in splenocytes and ameliorate symptoms in mice with ovalbumin (OVA)/alum-induced asthma. Splenocytes treated with the n-hexane phase showed a significant increase in Il10 expression. In the n-hexane phase, 47 fatty acids were identified. Individual fatty acids that comprised at least 5% of the total fatty acids were 16:0, 16:1n-7, 18:0, 18:1n-7, 20:4n-6, and 20:5n-3 (eicosapentaenoic acid). After administering the n-hexane phase to mice with OVA/alum-induced asthma, their asthma symptoms were ameliorated. Several immunomodulatory effects were observed in the n-hexane phase-pretreated group, compared with a vehicle control group. First, eosinophil infiltration and goblet cell hyperplasia were significantly reduced around the airways. Second, the concentrations of Th2-related cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13) and Th17-related cytokines (IL-17) were significantly decreased in the spleen and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Finally, the concentrations of TGF-β and IL-10, which are associated with Treg cells, were significantly increased in the BALF and splenocyte culture medium. In conclusion, a fatty acid-rich fraction (n-hexane phase) of sea cucumber extract ameliorated allergic airway inflammation in a mouse model.


IL-10; Treg cell; asthma; fatty acid; sea cucumber

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