Echinacea and trypanasomatid parasite interactions: growth-inhibitory and anti-inflammatory effects of Echinacea.
Pharm Biol. 2010 Sep;48(9):1047-52. PMID: 20731557
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
CONTEXT/OBJECTIVE: Herbal preparations derived from various species and parts of Echinacea (Asteraceae) have been advocated for various medical applications, as a result of the many antimicrobial and immunomodulatory activities attributed to them.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: In order to investigate their effects on parasites, four preparations of Echinacea, with distinct chemical compositions, were evaluated for growth inhibition of three species of trypanosomatids: Leishmania donovani, Leishmania major, and Trypanosoma brucei. In addition one Echinacea preparation was tested for anti-inflammatory activity in cell culture models designed to measure pro-inflammatory cytokines induced by L. donovani.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: All Echinacea preparations inhibited growth of the organisms, though with different relative potencies, and in some cases morphological changes were observed. However, there was no obvious correlation with the composition of the marker compounds, alkylamides, caffeic acid derivatives, and polysaccharides. L. donovani stimulated the production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8 in human bronchial epithelial cells and in human skin fibroblasts, but in both cases the standardized ethanol extract of E. purpurea (L.) Moench (Echinaforce) abolished the stimulation, indicating anti-inflammatory activity of this extract.
CONCLUSIONS: Thus various Echinacea extracts can inhibit the proliferation of these parasites and at least one can reverse the pro-inflammatory activity of Leishmania donovani.