Background: TNF-α has a major role in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease (CD). In contrast, GM-CSF may be beneficial for its anti-inflammatory role in a subset of patients with CD with antibodies against GM-CSF as seen in prior trials of GM-CSF which resulted in clinical improvement in CD. We developed butanol purified Food Allergy Herbal Formula-2 (B-FAHF-2) by refining FAHF-2. FAHF-2 suppressed TNF-α production by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and colonic mucosa, and abrogated colitis in a murine model. We sought to examine the effect of B-FAHF-2 and the herbs that comprise it on TNF-α and GM-CSF production as a potential herbal therapy for the treatment of CD. Methods: B-FAHF-2 was examined using high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) and compared to the original formulation, FAHF-2. PBMCs from pediatric patients with CD were cultured with lipopolysaccharide and B-FAHF-2, individual herbs or medium alone. Colonic biopsy specimens were cultured with or without B-FAHF-2. TNF-α and GM-CSF were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). B-FAHF-2 efficacy was tested in vivo in the CD45Rbhi transfer model. Results: B-FAHF-2 had a similar HPLC fingerprint as FAHF-2 but decreased TNF-α production by PBMCs and colonic mucosa from pediatric CD subjects at 20% of the FAHF-2 dose. B-FAHF-2 increased GM-CSF production by PBMCs and colonic mucosa from pediatric CD subjects including those with antibodies to GM-CSF. Of B-FAHF-2's herbal constituents, only Huang Bai suppressed TNF-α and increased GM-CSF production. In the murine model, B-FAHF-2 treatment alleviated colitis. Conclusions: B-FAHF-2 decreased TNF-α production by PBMCs and colonic mucosa from pediatric subjects at a lower dose than FAHF-2. B-FAHF-2 also increased GM-CSF production by PBMCs independent of antibodies. B-FAHF-2 may have a benefit in CD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number782859
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
StatePublished - 29 Nov 2021


  • Crohn's disease
  • drug development
  • herbal therapy
  • immunomodulatory
  • pre-clinical drug testing


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