Food allergy herbal formula 2 protection against peanut anaphylactic reaction is via inhibition of mast cells and basophils

Ying Song, Chunfeng Qu, Kamal Srivastava, Nan Yang, Paula Busse, Wei Zhao, Xiu Min Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Background: Mast cells and basophils are key effector cells of IgE-mediated anaphylactic reactions. The Chinese herbal formula, food allergy herbal formula 2 (FAHF-2), protects against peanut anaphylaxis in mice. However, the mechanisms underlying this effect are not fully elucidated. Objective: To investigate whether FAHF-2 inhibits mast cell/basophil numbers and IgE-mediated activation. Methods: Mice with peanut allergy (PNA mice) were treated with FAHF-2 intragastrically for 7 weeks and challenged intragastrically with peanut 1 day and 4 weeks posttreatment. Peripheral blood basophil numbers and peritoneal mast cell numbers and FcεRI expression were determined. Direct effects of FAHF-2 on the murine mast cell line MC/9, and effects of 4 fractions and 3 compounds isolated from FAHF-2 on rat basophilic leukemia cells (RBL-2H3) and human skin mast cells degranulation and on the IgE-mediated spleen tyrosine kinase signaling pathway, were determined. Results: Although all sham-treated PNA mice developed anaphylaxis, FAHF-2-treated PNA mice were protected against anaphylaxis after peanut challenge at 1 day and 4 weeks posttherapy. Reduction of peripheral blood basophils began after 1 week of treatment and continued for at least 4 weeks posttherapy. The number and FcεRI expression of peritoneal mast cells were also significantly decreased 4 weeks posttherapy. FAHF-2-treated MC/9 cells showed significantly reduced IgE-induced FcεRI expression, FcεRI γ mRNA subunit expression, proliferation, and histamine release on challenge. Fraction 2 from FAHF-2 inhibited RBL-2H3 cell and human mast cell degranulation. Three compounds from fraction 2 - berberine, palmatine, and jatrorrhizine - inhibited RBL-2H3 cell degranulation via suppressing spleen tyrosine kinase phosphorylation. Conclusion: Food allergy herbal formula 2 reduction of basophils and mast cell numbers as well as suppression of IgE-mediated mast cell activation may contribute to FAHF-2's persistent protection against peanut anaphylaxis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1208-1217.e1-e3
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Chinese herbal medicine
  • FcεRI
  • Peanut anaphylaxis
  • mast cells/basophils


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