Licarin A is a candidate compound for the treatment of immediate hypersensitivity via inhibition of rat mast cell line RBL-2H3 cells

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We previously demonstrated that some phenylpropanoids are capable of inhibiting activated mast cells. This study evaluated the anti-allergic effects of licarin A, a neolignan isolated from various plants, on antigen-stimulated rat mast cell line.


The inhibitory effects of licarin A on histamine release, tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) production, and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression in dinitrophenyl-human serum albumin (DNP-HSA) rat basophilic leukemia cells (DNP-HSA-stimulated RBL-2H3 cells), were investigated by spectrofluorometry, ELISA and immunoblotting.

Key findings

Licarin A significantly and dose-dependently reduced TNF-α production (IC50 12.6 ± 0.3 μM) in DNP-HSA-stimulated RBL-2H3 cells. Furthermore, the levels of PGD2 secretion in DNP-HSA-stimulated cells pretreated with licarin A were lower than those stimulated with DNP-HSA alone (positive control). Treatment with licarin A at 20 μM produced slight suppression of DNP-HSA-induced increases in COX-2 mRNA and protein levels. We identified several signalling pathways that mediated these pharmacological effects. Licarin A treatment tended to reduce phosphorylated protein kinase C alpha/beta II (PKCα/βII) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) protein levels.


Our results demonstrate that licarin A reduces TNF-α and PGD2 secretion via the inhibition of PKCα/βII and p38 MAPK pathways; this compound may be useful for attenuating immediate hypersensitivity.

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