Many native plant biopolymers or derivatives thereof have interesting biological effects and therefore the search for additional biological activities is important to map their overall effects. A low molecular weight (M = 7600 g/mol) hemicellulose polymer α-L-arabino(4-O-methyl-α-D-glucurono)-β-D-xylan (AGX) was isolated from the crushed roots of the Rudbeckia fulgida medicinal plant by alkaline extractions and anion-exchange chromatography. Analysis of neutral sugars revealed a predominance of xylose (82.3 wt%) and arabinose (6.8 wt%), while other neutral sugars were found only in small amounts as contaminants. The uronic acid content in Rudbeckia AGX was determined to be 8.8 wt%. Pharmacological tests showed that Rudbeckia AGX effectively suppressed cough and the initial amplitude of histamine/methacholine-induced bronchoconstriction in healthy OVA-sensitive guinea pigs. In addition, its effect at a dose of 100 mg/kg was similar to or greater than that of the positive control bronchodilator salbutamol and the antitussive codeine agent. These findings support the fact that Rudbeckia AGX could be a suitable candidate for alternative treatment of allergic asthma.
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