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Arzneimittelforschung. 1998 Jul;48(7):764-71.

Anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating properties of grape melanin. Inhibitory effects on paw edema and adjuvant induced disease.

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Department of Genetics, Development and Molecular Biology, School of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Aristoteles University of Thessaloniki, Greece.


Natural or synthetic melanin (CAS 8049-97-6) is a high molecular weight heteropolymer, product of the enzyme tyrosinase, found to possess radical scavenging and antioxidant functions. It was of interest, therefore, to study in detail the possible anti-inflammatory and/or immunosuppressive properties of a melanin isolated from grapes. The inhibitory effect of melanin on carrageenin-induced edema, as well as on edemas produced by other phlogistics, was remarkable suggesting that melanin interferes with the prostaglandin as well as the leukotriene and/or complement system mediated inflammation. Grape melanin showed potent inhibitory effect on adjuvant induced disease (AID) in rat, suppressing significantly the primary inflammation and almost totally the secondary lesions of arthritis. Melanin under the present experimental conditions not only strongly inhibited the in vitro lipid peroxidation of rat liver microsomal membranes, but furthermore protected the in vivo hepatic peroxidation occurring in AID rats, demonstrating its antioxidant and cytoprotective properties. The serum proinflammatory cytokines IL-1, IL-6 and TNF-a and the serum globulin fraction were elevated in AID rats, parameters which were more or less normalised by melanin treatment in contrast to the reduced serum levels of IL-2 which were not affected. Similarly to other lipoxygenase inhibitors and hydroxyl radical scavenger NSAIDs, melanin treatment did not affect IL-1 neither increased the splenic mitogenic responses, unlike the classical cyclooxygenase inhibitory NSAIDs. The subpopulation Th1 (T4+ or T8+) of lymphocytes is mainly responsible for cellular immune responses and thus their possible inhibition by melanin could lead to suppression of the development of AID, a model for cell-mediated immunity. The effect of melanin on T-cells is exhibited by the reduced spleen mitogenic responses to a T-cell mitogen and the reduced serum levels of IL-2 of treated rats. In conclusion, grape melanin is an interesting anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating natural product which appears to have multiple cellular targets within the reticuloendothelial and immune system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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