Allergic asthma is induced by T helper 2 (Th2) responses and allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE). In asthma, regulatory T (Treg) cells play a crucial role in controlling immune homeostasis, and induction of Treg cells is a good strategy to treat Th2-mediated allergic asthma. Schisandrin B (Sch B), the main component isolated from Schisandra chinensis, reportedly possesses various pharmacological properties, but its immunomodulatory mechanism in allergic asthma remains unclear. In the present study, we explored whether Sch B exerts an antiallergic effect through modifying the function of dendritic cells (DCs) to regulate T-cell polarization and further investigated the immunomodulatory effects of Sch B in allergic asthma. Herein, an in vitro study revealed that 20 μM of Sch B-treated bone-marrow-derived DCs exhibited a semi-mature phenotype that secreted low amounts of proinflammatory cytokines including interleukin (IL)-12, IL-1β, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and expressed decreased levels of surface molecules of cluster of differentiation 80 (CD80) and CD86. Compared to fully mature DCs, these Sch B-treated DCs displayed a regulatory ability to promote CD4+Foxp3+ Treg cell generation via upregulation of heme oxygenase (HO)-1 expression. Of note, in a murine model of ovalbumin (OVA)-induced asthma, levels of Th2-type cytokines such as IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13, and C–C motif chemokine 11 (CCL11) were dampened, whereas numbers of forkhead box P3 (Foxp3)-positive Treg cells were augmented in Sch B-treated mice. Moreover, administration of 5 mg/kg of Sch B alleviated the cardinal features of Th2-mediated allergic asthma, namely, serum OVA-specific IgE production, the development of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), and airway inflammation. Collectively, these findings indicate that the effectiveness of Sch B treatment against Th2-mediated allergic asthma was at least partially due to enhancement of DC induction of Treg cells, and Sch B can possibly be developed as an immunomodulatory adjuvant to treat allergic asthma.
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