The root of Polygonum multiflorum (also called He-Shou-Wu in Chinese) is a common herb and medicinal food in Asia used for its anti-aging properties. Our study investigated the therapeutic potential of an extract of the root of Polygonum multiflorum (PME) in allergic asthma by using a mouse model. Feeding of 0.5 and 1 mg/mouse PME inhibited ovalbumin (OVA)-induced allergic asthma symptoms, including airway inflammation, mucus production, and airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR), in a dose-dependent manner. To discern PME's mechanism of action, we examined the profile and cytokine production of inflammatory cells in bronchial alveolar lavage fluid (BALF). We found that eosinophils, the main inflammatory cell infiltrate in the lung of OVA-immunized mice, significantly decreased after PME treatment. Th2 cytokine levels, including interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, IL-13, eotaxin, and the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, decreased in PME-treated mice. Elevated mRNA expression of Th2 transcription factor GATA-3 in the lung tissue was also inhibited after oral feeding of PME in OVA-immunized mice. Thus, we conclude that PME produces anti-asthma activity through the inhibition of Th2 cell activation.
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