Berberine and limonin suppress IgE production by human B cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells from food-allergic patients

Nan Yang, Julie Wang, Changda Liu, Ying Song, Shuwei Zhang, Jiachen Zi, Jixun Zhan, Madhan Masilamani, Amanda Cox, Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn, Hugh Sampson, Xiu Min Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background Currently, there is no satisfactory treatment for IgE-mediated food allergy. Food Allergy Herbal Formula 2 (FAHF-2) and butanol-purified FAHF-2 (B-FAHF-2) have been shown to protect against peanut-induced anaphylaxis and inhibit IgE synthesis in a murine model.

Objective To determine which herbs and compounds in FAHF-2 and B-FAHF-2 suppress IgE production.

Methods The effect of FAHF-2 and B-FAHF-2 on IgE production was determined using a human B-cell line (U266). Individual compounds were isolated and identified using column chromatography, liquid chromatographic mass spectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance techniques. The potency of compounds on IgE suppression were investigated using U266 cells and verified using human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (n = 25) from peanut-allergic patients. Epsilon germline transcript expression was determined. Phosphorylated IκBα level was analyzed using the In-Cell Western assay. The mRNA expression of signal transducer and activator of transcription-3, T-box transcription factor TBX21, interferon-γ, forkhead box P3, GATA-binding protein 3, interleukin-10, and interleukin-5 also were analyzed using real-time polymerase chain reaction.

Results FAHF-2 and B-FAHF-2 inhibited IgE production by U266 cells. B-FAHF-2 was 9 times more effective than FAHF-2. Two compounds that inhibited IgE production were isolated from Philodendron chinensis and identified as berberine and limonin. Berberine was more potent and inhibited IgE production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells by 80% at 0.62 μg/mL. Berberine significantly inhibited ε-germline transcript expression by peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Phosphorylated IκBα level was significantly suppressed and mRNA expressions of T-box transcription factor TBX21 and signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 were significantly increased by berberine.

Conclusion Berberine and limonin mediated IgE suppression. The mechanism by which berberine modulates ε-germline transcript expression might be through regulating the phosphorylated IκBα level and the expressions of signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 and T-box transcription factor TBX21. Trial Registration identifier NCT00602160.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)556-564.e4
JournalAnnals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2014


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