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Molecular mechanisms of the anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects of phytopharmaka on monocytes, macrophages and cancer cells


Herbs have been used as food and for medicinal purposes for centuries improving the quality of human life. Herbal medicine is based on the premise that plants contain natural substances that can promote health and alleviate illness, Research interest has focused on various herbs that possess anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic, anti-platelet, anti-tumor, or immune-stimulating properties. The herbal extracts may be useful adjuncts in helping to reduce disorders like functional dyspepsia, motility-associated disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and to diminish the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as cancer without side effects.

Two herbal extracts STW 5 (Iberogast®) and STW 11 (Influex®) are investigated. Iberogast® is a combination of herbal extracts that is indicated in the therapy of motility-related diseases of the gastrointestinal tract STW 5 is a fixed combination of ethanolic extracts of nine different herbal constituents with a final ethanol concentration of 31%. Its components are an aqueous-ethanolic fresh plant extract from Iberis amara (L.) and drug extracts from peppermint leaves Menthae piperitae (L.); chamomile flower Chamomilla recutita (L.); liquorice root, Glycyrrhiza glabra (L.); angelica root Angelica archangelica (L); caraway fruit, Carum Carvi (L.); milk thistle fruit, Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn.; lemon balm leaves, Melissa officinalis (L.); and greater celandine herb, Chelidonium majus (L.). Moreover, several pharmacological studies have shown that the fixed combination medicinal product Influex® increases the cellular and the humoral immune response. Influex® consists of Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia DC and Echinacea pallida Nutt.) as a mother tincture, and aconite (Aconitum napellus L), honey bee venom and Lachesis muta (venom of bushmaster snake).

In this context, research projects concerning herbal extracts focus on three molecular mechanisms: i) Anti-inflammatory mechanisms in systemic (monocytes) and resident cells (macrophages) ii) Anti-proliferative/pro-apoptotic signalling in cancer cells and iii) Immunomodulatory effects on non-activated macrophages.

To test these mechanisms several human monocytic cell lines and colon adenocarcinoma cells are under test in comparison with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Pro- and anti-inflammatory effects of numerous substances are tested by use of quantitative apoptosis tests, nitrite, TNFα, and COX2 measurements. Cytotoxicity of numerous substances is tested in human macrophages by use of quantitative apoptosis tests, and dye exclusion tests (necrosis).


Current Projects include:

  • Studying STW 5 functions in physiological and pathological conditions.
  • Analyzing the molecular mechanisms by which STW 5 delivers anti-cancer effects.
  • Deciphering the molecular mechanisms of immuno-stimulatory effects of STW 11 (Influex®).


Please contact Prof. Dr. Ralf Kinscherf for further information:         


Key Publications

Katryniok C, Bonaterra GA, Traut U, Hollender R,  Weiser D, Kelber O, Kinscherf R. Influence of
          STW 11, a fixed combination medicinal product, on cytokine production of human macrophages.
          Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology (in press).

Bonaterra GA, Zügel S, Hildebrandt W, Kelber O, Weiser D, Metz J, Kinscherf R. Pro-apoptotic and
         anti-proliferative mechanisms of STW 5. Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology 2010;
         (in press).

Bonaterra GA, Kelber O, Weiser D, Metz J, Kinscherf R. In vitro anti-proliferative effects of the willow
          bark extract STW 33-I. Arzneimittelforschung 2010; 60(6):330-5.

Bonaterra GA, Heinrich EU, Kelber O, Weiser D, Metz J, Kinscherf R. Anti-inflammatory effects of the
          willow bark extract STW 33-I (Proaktiv((R))) in LPS-activated human monocytes and
          differentiated macrophages. Phytomedicine 2010; May 28. [Epub ahead of print]

Kinscherf R, Bonaterra GA, Traut U, Vinson BR, Kelber O, Weiser D, Metz J. Do Phytomedicines
          Widely Used in FGID Have Anti-Proliferative and Proapoptotic Effects in Colon Adenocarcinoma
          Cells? Gastroenterology 2009; 136(5): A620.

Bonaterra GA, Kinscherf R, Traut U, Langlotz S, Okpanyi SN, Weiser D, Kelber O, Metz J. Anti-
          inflammatory properties of willow bark extract STW 33-I are comparable to those of aspirin and
          diclofenac. Naunyn-Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 2008; 377: 46.


Zuletzt aktualisiert: 07.06.2013 · posth

Fb. 20 - Medizin

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