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Keywords:

  • Echinacea;
  • antiinflammatory;
  • cytokines;
  • chemokines;
  • IL-6 (interleukin 6);
  • IL-8 (CXCL8)

Abstract

Numerous Echinacea preparations are available on the market for the prevention and treatment of cold and 'flu symptoms and inflammatory conditions associated with infections. Most of these preparations are consumed orally in the form of aqueous or ethanol extracts and tinctures. Since the recommended consumption normally involves a brief local exposure to the diluted preparation at an unspecified time in relation to the actual infection, then it is important that experimental models for the evaluation of Echinacea reflect these limitations. A line of human bronchial epithelial cells, in which rhinoviruses stimulate the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, was used to evaluate several relevant parameters. The chemically characterized Echinacea preparation (Echinaforce®) was capable of inhibiting completely the rhinovirus induced secretion of IL-6 (interleukin-6) and IL-8 (chemokine CXCL-8) in these cells, regardless of whether the Echinacea was added before or after virus infection, and in response to a range of virus doses. This inhibitory effect was also manifest under conditions resembling normal consumption with respect to the duration of exposure to Echinacea and the Echinacea dilution. It is concluded that under real life conditions of Echinacea consumption, the virus-induced stimulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines can be effectively reversed or alleviated. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.