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Int J Immunopharmacol. 1988;10(6):729-37.

Rosmarinic acid: a new inhibitor of complement C3-convertase with anti-inflammatory activity.

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Nattermann Research Laboratories, Cologne, F.R.G.


Rosmarinic acid (RA) is a naturally occurring compound, isolated from Rosmarinus officinalis or Melissa officinalis which inhibits the in vitro immunohaemolysis of antibody-coated sheep erythrocytes by guinea pig serum. In further experiments this reduced immunohaemolysis was found to be due to inhibition of the C3-convertase of the classical complement pathway. The threshold concentration for inhibition of C3-convertase was 10(-6) mol/l. RA with an optimal inhibitory concentration between 5 and 10 mumol/l., resulting in about 70% inhibition of haemolysis. However, higher concentrations of RA were less effective at inhibiting C3-convertase. The inhibition may not be specific for C3-convertase, since another serine protease, elastase, was also weakly inhibited by RA in vitro. RA also exhibited inhibitory activity in three in vivo models in which complement activation plays a role. Thus, RA (0.316-3.16 mg/kg i.m.) reduced paw oedema induced by cobra venom factor (CVF) in the rat, and at 1-100 mg/kg p.o. inhibited passive cutaneous anaphylaxis in the rat. In addition, at 10 mg/kg i.m. RA impaired in vivo activation by heat-killed Corynebacterium parvum (i.p.) of mouse macrophages, as measured by the decreased capacity of the activated macrophages to undergo the oxidative burst. RA (0.1-10 mg/kg i.m.) did not inhibit t-butyl hydroperoxide-induced paw oedema in the rat, indicating selectivity for complement-dependent processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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