Shikimic acid inhibits LPS-induced cellular pro-inflammatory cytokines and attenuates mechanical hyperalgesia in mice

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Background and aims

Shikimic acid (SA) is present in a wide variety of plants and microorganisms used in traditional and folk medicine and also is an essential starting material for the synthesis of the antiviral drug Oseltamivir (Tamiflu®). Some pharmacological actions observed in SA-enriched products include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Here, we investigated the anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive actions of isolated SA.


RAW 264.7 macrophage cells were treated with bacterial LPS (1 μg/mL) and the effect of SA on the modulation of cell viability, nitric oxide (NO) production, TNF-α, and IL-1β content and MAPK (ERK1/2 and p38) activation was evaluated. Besides, the anti-hyperalgesic actions of SA on in vivo model of mechanical hyperalgesia induced by carrageenan (CG), dopamine (DA), TNF-α and prostaglandin (PGE2) were assessed.


In RAW 264.7 cells, SA suppressed LPS-induced decrease in cell viability and nitrite accumulation to control values and inhibited up-regulation of TNF-α (65%) and IL-1β (39%). These effects may be mediated at least in part by inhibition of LPS-induced ERK 1/2 (22%) and p38 (17%) phosphorylation. In mice, SA at 50, 100, and 200 mg/kg decreased formalin-induced nociceptive behavior (around 50%) and inhibited the inflammatory nociception induced by TNF-α and PGE2 (50 to 75% each). Moreover, SA (100 and 200 mg/kg) significantly attenuated the mechanical hyperalgesia induced by CG and DA (25 to 40% each).


These results indicate that SA presents anti-inflammatory actions with potential for development of drugs to treat pro-inflammatory and painful conditions.

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