Shikonin inhibits maturation of bone marrow-derived dendritic cells and suppresses allergic airway inflammation in a murine model of asthma

Chen Chen Lee, Chien Neng Wang, Yu Ting Lai, Jaw Jou Kang, Jiunn Wang Liao, Bor Luen Chiang, Hui Chen Chen, Yu Wen Cheng

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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Shikonin exhibits a wide range of anti-inflammatory actions. Here, we assessed its effects on maturation of murine bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BM-DCs) and on allergic reactions in a murine model of asthma. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH Cultured murine BM-DCs were used to investigate the effects of shikonin on expression of cell surface markers and their stimulation of T-cell proliferation and cytokine production. The therapeutic potential of shikonin was evaluated in a model of allergic airway disease. KEY RESULTS Shikonin dose-dependently inhibited expression of major histocompatibility complex class II, CD80, CD86, CCR7 and OX40L on BM-DCs, induced by a mixture of ovalbumin (OVA; 100 μg·mL -1) and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP; 20 ng·mL -1). Shikonin-treated BM-DCs were poor stimulators of CD4 + T lymphocyte and induced lower levels of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, IL-13 and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α release by responding T-cells. After intratracheal instillation of shikonin in OVA-immunized mice, OVA challenge induced lower IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, TNF-α and eotaxin release in bronchial alveolar lavage fluid, lower IL-4 and IL-5 production in lung cells and mediastinal lymph node cells and attenuated OVA-induced lung eosinophilia and airway hyperresponsiveness. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS Shikonin effectively suppressed OVA + TSLP-induced BM-DC maturation in vitro and inhibited allergic inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness in a murine model of asthma, showing good potential as a treatment for allergic asthma. Also, our model provides a novel platform for screening drugs for allergic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1496-1511
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010



  • Airway hyperresponsiveness
  • Allergic inflammation
  • Asthma
  • Dendritic cells
  • Shikonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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