Asthma is one of the most common chronic inflammatory conditions of the lungs in modern society. Asthma is associated with airway hyperresponsiveness and remodeling of the airways, with typical symptoms of cough, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Interleukins (IL) play an integral role in its inflammatory pathogenesis. Medicinal herbs and secondary metabolites are gaining considerable attention due to their potential therapeutic role and pharmacological mechanisms as adjunct tools to synthetic bronchodilator drugs.
To systematically review the literature on the use of single or mixed plants extracts therapy in vivo experimental systems for asthma, emphasizing their regulations on IL production to improve lung.
Literature searches were performed on PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus and Web of Science databases. All articles in English were extracted from 1999 up to September 2019, assessed critically for data extraction. Studies investigating the effectiveness and safety of plant extracts administered; inflammatory cell count, immunoglobulin E (IgE) production and regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokine and T helper (Th) 1 and Th2-driven cytokine expression in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and lung of asthmatic animals were included.
Four hundred and eighteen publications were identified and 51 met the inclusion criteria. Twenty-six studies described bioactive compounds from plant extracts. The most frequent immunopharmacological mechanisms described included reduction in IgE and eosinophilic recruitment, decreased mucus hypersecretion and airway hyperreactivity, enhancement of the balance of Th1/Th2 cytokine ratio, suppression of matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP-9) and reversal of structural alterations.
Plant extract therapies have potential control activities on asthma symptoms by modulating the secretion of pro-inflammatory (IL-1β, IL-8), Th17 (IL-17), anti-inflammatory (IL-10, IL-23, IL-31, IL-33), Th1 (IL-2, IL-12) and Th2 (IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-13) cytokines, reducing the level of biomarkers of airway inflammation.
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