Analysis of boswellic acid contents and related pharmacological activities of frankincense-based remedies that modulate inflammation

  • Extracts of frankincense, the gum resin of Boswellia species, have been extensively used in traditional folk medicine since ancient times and are still of great interest as promising anti-inflammatory remedies in Western countries. Despite their common therapeutic use and the intensive pharmacological research including studies on active ingredients, modes of action, bioavailability, pharmacokinetics, and clinical efficacy, frankincense preparations are available as nutraceuticals but have not yet approved as a drug on the market. A major issue of commercially available frankincense nutraceuticals is the striking differences in their composition and quality, especially related to the content of boswellic acids (BAs) as active ingredients, mainly due to the use of material from divergent Boswellia species but also because of different work-up and extraction procedures. Here, we assessed three frequently used frankincense-based preparations for their BA content and the interference with prominent pro-inflammatory actions and targets that have been proposed, that is, 5-lipoxygenase and leukotriene formation in human neutrophils, microsomal prostaglandin E2 synthase-1, and inflammatory cytokine secretion in human blood monocytes. Our data reveal striking differences in the pharmacological efficiencies of these preparations in inflammation-related bioassays which obviously correlate with the amounts of BAs they contain. In summary, high-quality frankincense extracts display powerful anti-inflammatory effectiveness against multiple targets which can be traced back to BAs as bioactive ingredients.

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Author:Friedemann Börner, Markus Werner, Johannes Ertelt, Jürgen Meins, Mona Abdel-Tawab, Oliver Werz
Parent Title (English):Pharmaceuticals
Place of publication:Basel
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/07/10
Date of first Publication:2021/07/10
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2021/10/20
Tag:5-lipoxygenase; boswellic acids; frankincense; inflammation; microsomal prostaglandin E2; synthase-1
Issue:7, art. 660
Page Number:13
First Page:1
Last Page:13
This research was funded by Heidelberg-Apotheke/AureliaSan GmbH. The APC was funded by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
Institutes:Biochemie, Chemie und Pharmazie
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0