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Concept: Echinacea


Roots of Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea pallida cultivated for four years in a North European climate were analyzed for seasonal variations in the concentrations of lipophilic constituents (alkamides, ketoalkenes- and alkynes) and phenolic acids by harvesting five times during one year to establish the optimal time for harvest. A total of 16 alkamides, two ketoalkenes, two ketoalkynes, and four phenolic acids (echinacoside, cichoric acid, caftaric acid, and chlorogenic acid) were identified in aqueous ethanolic (70%) extracts by LC-MS and quantified by RP-HPLC. The major alkamides in the roots of E. purpurea were at their lowest concentration in the middle of autumn and early winter and the total concentration of lipophilic compounds in E. pallida showed the same pattern. Moreover, all the major phenolic acids in E. purpurea were at their highest concentrations in spring. Optimal harvest time in spring is in contrast to normal growing guidelines and hence, this specific information of seasonal variations in the concentrations of lipophilic and phenolic compounds in E. purpurea and E. pallida is valuable for research, farmers, and producers of medicinal preparations.

Concepts: Concentration, Chemical properties, Harvest, Echinacea, Caffeic acid, Cichoric acid, Phenols


INTRODUCTION: Echinacea preparations are among the most popular herbal remedies worldwide. Although it is generally assigned immune enhancement activities, the effectiveness of Echinacea is highly dependent on the Echinacea species, part of the plant used, the age of the plant, its location and the method of extraction. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the capacity of an artificial neural network (ANN) to analyse thin-layer chromatography (TLC) chromatograms as fingerprint patterns for quantitative estimation of three phenylpropanoid markers (chicoric acid, chlorogenic acid and echinacoside) in commercial Echinacea products. MATERIAL AND METHODS: By applying samples with different weight ratios of marker compounds to the system, a database of chromatograms was constructed. One hundred and one signal intensities in each of the TLC chromatograms were correlated to the amounts of applied echinacoside, chlorogenic acid and chicoric acid using an ANN. RESULTS: The developed ANN correlation was used to quantify the amounts of three marker compounds in Echinacea commercial formulations. The minimum quantifiable level of 63, 154 and 98 ng and the limit of detection of 19, 46 and 29 ng were established for echinacoside, chlorogenic acid and chicoric acid respectively. CONCLUSION: A novel method for quality control of herbal products, based on TLC separation, high-resolution digital plate imaging and ANN data analysis has been developed. The method proposed can be adopted for routine evaluation of the phytochemical variability in Echinacea formulations available in the market. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Chromatography, Echinacea, Caffeic acid, Herbalism, Cichoric acid, Neural network, Artificial neural network, Herb


A rapid and sensitive assay based on ultra high performance liquid chromatography with electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry was established and validated for the simultaneous determination of cichoric acid, chlorogenic acid, quinic acid and caffeic acid in rat plasma after oral administration of Echinacea purpurea extract using butylparaben as the internal standard. Samples were pretreated by liquid-liquid extraction with ethyl acetate. The separations for analytes were performed on an ACQUITY UPLC HSS C18 column (1.8 μm 2.1×100 mm) using a gradient elution programme with acetonitrile/10 mM ammonium acetate (pH 5.6) at a flow rate of 0.3 mL/min. The analytes were detected by multiple reaction monitoring mode with negative electrospray ionization. The lower limit of quantification of each analyte was not higher than 10.85 ng/mL. The relative standard deviation of the intra-day and inter-day precisions was less than 14.69%. The relative errors of accuracies were in the range of -13.80 to 14.91%. The mean recoveries for extraction recovery and matrix effect were higher than 80.79 and 89.98%, respectively. The method validation results demonstrated that the proposed method was sensitive, specific and reliable, which was successfully applied to the pharmacokinetic study of four components after oral administration of Echinacea purpurea extract. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Chromatography, High performance liquid chromatography, Analytical chemistry, Echinacea, Caffeic acid, Cichoric acid, Chlorogenic acid


Chicoric acid (CA), a natural phenolic acid extracted from chicory and the echinacea (purple coneflower) plant (Echinacea purpurea), has been regarded as a nutraceutical that has powerful antioxidant and antiobesity activities. We investigated the inhibitory effects of CA on systemic inflammation-induced neuroinflammation, amyloidogenesis, and cognitive impairment. C57BL/6J mice were treated with 0.05% CA in the drinking water for 45 d. The mice were then treated by intraperitoneal injection of LPS (lipopolysaccharide). It was found that CA prevented LPS-induced memory impairment and neuronal loss through behavioral tests and histological examination. Furthermore, amyloidogenesis in the CNS was detected. The results showed that CA prevented LPS-induced increases in β-amyloid (1-42 specific) (Aβ1-42) accumulation, levels of amyloid precursor protein, and neuronal β-secretase 1 (BACE1), as well as the equilibrium cholinergic system in mouse brain. Moreover, CA down-regulated LPS-induced glial overactivation by inhibiting the MAPK and NF-κB pathway. Consequently, CA reduced the levels of NF-κB transcriptionally regulated inflammatory mediators and cytokines such as iNOS, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), IL-1β, and TNF-α in both mouse brain and BV2 microglial cells. These results demonstrated that CA alleviated memory impairment and amyloidogenesis triggered by LPS through suppressing NF-κB transcriptional pathway, suggesting that CA might be a plausible therapeutic intervention for neuroinflammation-related diseases such as Alzheimer disease.-Liu, Q., Chen, Y., Shen, C., Xiao, Y., Wang, Y., Liu, Z., Liu, X. Chicoric acid supplementation prevents systemic inflammation-induced memory impairment and amyloidogenesis via inhibition of NF-κB.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Nervous system, Neuron, Neurotransmitter, Glial cell, Echinacea, Cichoric acid, Microglia


The study aimed to evaluate the effect of Zingiber officinale and Echinacea angustifolia extract supplementation (25 mg of ginger and 5 mg of Echinacea) for 30 days on inflammation and chronic pain in knee osteoarthritis (OA). Consecutive nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory-drugs (NSAIDs) poor responders with chronic inflammation and pain due to knee arthrosis were assessed (15 subjects, age: 67.2 ± 7.9, body mass index: 30.6 ± 7.1, men/women:2/13). The primary endpoint was to determine pain improvement from baseline to Day 30 by Tegner Lysholm Knee Scoring. The secondary endpoints were the assessment of Visual Analog Scale for Pain, health-related quality of life, by the ShortForm36 (SF-36), anthropometric parameters, hydration. After supplementation, a significant improvement of 12.27 points was observed for Lysholm scale score (p < 0.05), SF-36 (p < 0.05), and a decrease in -0.52 cm in knee circumference (left) (p < 0.01). This pilot study provides feasibility and safety data for the use of highly standardised ginger and Echinacea extract supplementation in people with knee OA.

Concepts: Obesity, Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Body mass index, Diclofenac, Celecoxib, Echinacea, Ginger


In this study, we investigated the immunomodulatory effects of a supplemented killed influenza virus (V) by Echinacea purpurea (E) and Nigella sativa (N) extracts and effect of changing the route of immunization from intramuscular (IM) to intraperitoneal (IP). At the 2(nd)-, 3(rd)- and 4(th)-week post-IM immunizations (WPIMI), the supplemented V with N (VN) induced the most significant IgM response unlike N alone. At the 2(nd) WPIMI, V or VN induced the highest significant IgG levels. At the 2(nd)-week post-IP immunization (WPIPI), E and VN induced the most significant IgG levels. Both at the 3(rd) and 4(th) WPIMI or WPIPI, various treatments induced significant increases in IgG. At the 4(th) WPIMI, E, V, and V with E (VE) induced significant increases in the CD4+ thymocytes while all IP treatments caused significant increase in their counts. V and VN induced the most significant IM induction of CD8+ thymocytes while their best IP stimulation was induced by N, VE, and VN. At the 4(th) WPIMI, various treatments caused significant increases in the mesenteric lymph node (MLN) CD4+, CD8+ counts. WPIPI with V or VE caused significant increases in both the CD4+- and CD8+ MLN cells, whereas VN significantly induced CD8+ MLN cells only. WPIPI with various treatments caused significant increases in the B-cell counts and the peak was obtained by VN.

Concepts: Immune system, Lymphocyte, Vaccination, Immunology, Adaptive immune system, Influenza, Echinacea, Immunization


Echinacea purpurea is an indigenous North American purple cone flower used by North Americans for treatment of various infectious diseases and wounds. This study investigated the effect of polysaccharide enriched extract of Echinacea purpurea (EE) on the polarization of macrophages. The results showed that 100 µg/mL of EE could markedly activate the macrophage by increasing the expression of CD80, CD86, and MHCII molecules. Meanwhile, EE upregulated the markers of classically activated macrophages (M1) such as CCR7 and the production of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-12p70, TNF-αand NO. The functional tests showed that EE enhanced the phagocytic and intracellular bactericidal activity of macrophage against ST. Furthermore, we demonstrated that JNK are required for EE-induced NO and M1-related cytokines production. Together, these results demonstrated that Echinacea purpurea can polarize macrophages towards M1 phenotype, which is dependent on the JNK signaling pathways. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Immune system, Macrophage, United States, Echinacea, North America, Copyright, Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Echinacea purpurea


The extraction yield, total phenols, caffeic acid derivatives (CAD), and antioxidant properties of 50% ethanolic Echinacea purpurea flower extract were determined. The in vitro inhibitory effects of 50% ethanolic extract and CAD on α-amylase, α-glucosidase, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) linked with type 2 diabetes were also investigated. The extraction yield, total phenols, and total CAD of the extract were 27.04%, 195.69 mg CAE/g and 78.42 mg/g, respectively. Cichoric acid (56.03 mg/g) was the predominant CAD compound in the extract. The extract exhibited good antioxidant properties. The extract and CAD inhibited α-amylase, α-glucosidase, and ACE activities in a concentration-dependent manner. Among the tested samples, chlorogenic acid, and caffeic acid (IC50 of 1.71-1.81 mg/mL) had the highest α-amylase inhibitory activity, cichoric acid (IC50 of 0.28 mg/mL) showed higher α-glucosidase inhibitory activity. Both chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid (IC50 of 0.11-0.14 mg/mL) demonstrated higher ACE-inhibitory activity. The in vitro results suggest that E. purpurea extract and CAD have good potential for managing hyperglycemia and hypertension. Overall, the data suggest it is a choice for developing antihyperglycemia and antihypertension compounds from field-grown E. purpurea.

Concepts: Diabetes mellitus, Echinacea, Caffeic acid, Cichoric acid, Chlorogenic acid


The study was conducted to investigate the effects of dietary administrations of four nutraceuticals in dogs. Seventy four dogs were enrolled in the trials, 24 healthy dogs were fed with a control diet (CT) and the experimental groups received for 60days the same diet supplemented with nutraceuticals, namely Echinacea angustifolia (EA, 0.10mg/kg live weight as echinacoside; 14 dogs), Vaccinium myrtillus (VM, 0.20mg/kg live weight as anthocyanidin, 13 dogs), Curcuma longa (CL, 6.60mg/kg live weight as curcumin, 18 dogs with arthrosis), and Sylibum marianum (SM, 1.5mg/kg live weight as sylibin, 8 dogs with hepatopathy). Dogs were weighted at the beginning of study and blood samples were collected at the beginning (T0) and at the end (T60) of the study. VM significantly down regulated TNF, CXCL8, NFKB1 and PTGS2 and decreased plasma ceruloplasmin (CuCp). The activity of EA was evidenced by the significant decrease of TNF and NFKB1 expression and CuCp levels and by the increase of plasma Zn. Administration of CL caused a significant decrease of CuCp and increase of Zn and a down regulation of TNF, CXCL8, NFKB1 and PTGS2, corroborating the anti-inflammatory action of curcuminoids. After 60days of treatment with SM, plasma ALT/GPT activity was reduced and paraoxonase was increased, supporting the antioxidant activity of silymarin, also confirmed by the significant up regulation of SOD2. Results indicated that nutraceutical administrations in dogs can be an interesting approach to modulate immune response in order to improve health condition of animals.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Nutrition, Echinacea, Weight, Bilberry, Vaccinium myrtillus, Curcumin


Chicoric acid is a major active constituent of Echinacea purpurea and has a variety of biological functions. In this study, a liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) approach was developed and validated for the determination of chicoric acid in rat plasma and various tissues using ferulic acid as an internal standard (IS). This method was successfully applied to pharmacokinetics, tissue distribution, and plasma protein binding (PPB) study of chicoric acid in Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats dosed with 50mg/kg by gastric gavage. The pharmacokinetic parameters were determined and showed a half-life (t1/2) of 4.53±1.44h, an apparent volume of mean residual time (MRT) of 18.58±4.43h, and an area under the curve (AUC) of 26.14 mghL(-1). The tissue distribution of chicoric acid in rats after gavage administration showed a decreasing tendency in different tissues (liver>lung>kidney>heart>spleen>brain). The PPB rates in rat plasma, human plasma, and bovine serum albumin were 98.3, 96.9, and 96.6%, respectively. These results provide insight for the further pharmacological investigation of chicoric acid.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Blood, Mass spectrometry, Serum albumin, Analytical chemistry, Distribution, Pharmacokinetics, Echinacea