Zerumbone is a sesquiterpene compound isolated from the rhizome of wild ginger, Zingiber zerumbet Smith. The rhizomes of the plant are used as a spice and traditional medicine. Zerumbone was shown to possess anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. However, the antiallergic activity and the underlying mechanism of zerumbone have not been reported. Herein, we investigated the immunomodulatory effects of zerumbone on antigen-presenting dendritic cells (DCs) in vitro and its potential therapeutic effects against ovalbumin (OVA)-induced T helper 2 (Th2)-mediated asthma in mice. In the presence of zerumbone, lipopolysaccharide-activated bone marrow-derived DCs enhanced T cell proliferation and Th1 cell polarization in an allogeneic mixed lymphocyte reaction. In animal experiments, mice were sensitized and challenged with OVA, and were orally treated with different doses of zerumbone after sensitization. Circulating titers of OVA-specific antibodies, airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine, histological changes in lung tissues, the cell composition and cytokine levels in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and cytokine profiles of spleen cells were assessed. Compared to OVA-induced hallmarks of asthma, oral administration of zerumbone induced lower OVA-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) and higher IgG2a antibody production, attenuated airway hyperresponsiveness, prevented eosinophilic pulmonary infiltration, and ameliorated mucus hypersecretion. Zerumbone treatment also reduced the production of eotaxin, keratinocyte-derived chemokine (KC), interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, IL-10, and IL-13, and promoted Th1 cytokine interferon (IFN)-γ production in asthmatic mice. Taken together, these results suggest that zerumbone exhibits an antiallergic effect via modulation of Th1/Th2 cytokines in an asthmatic mouse model.
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