Hawthorn extract is a popular herbal medicine given as adjunctive treatment for chronic heart failure. In contrast to the cardiac properties of hawthorn extract, its anti-inflammatory effect has been scarcely investigated. This study examines the effects of a dry extract of leaves and flowers of Crataegus laevigata on various functional outputs of human neutrophils in vitro. Incubation of human neutrophils obtained from peripheral blood of healthy donors with C. laevigata extract (0.75–250 μg/ml) inhibited N-formyl-Met-Leu-Phe (FMLP)-induced superoxide anion generation, elastase release and chemotactic migration with potency values of 43.6, 21.9, and 31.6 μg/ml, respectively. By contrast, serum-opsonized zymosan-induced phagocytosis was unaltered by plant extract. C. laevigata extract (125 μg/ml) reduced FMLP-induced leukotriene B4 production and lipopolysaccharide-induced generation of tumour necrosis factor-α and interleukin-8. Extract inhibited FMLP-induced intracellular calcium signal with potency of 17.4 μg/ml. Extract also markedly inhibited the extracellular calcium entry into calcium-depleted neutrophils, and the thapsigargin-induced intracellular calcium response.
In conclusion, C. laevigata extract inhibited various functional outputs of activated human neutrophils which may be relevant to the pathophysiology of cardiac failure.