Findings published in the open access Journal of Inflammation suggest that a polyphenol-rich pomegranate fruit extract (POMx) acts by inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines at a gene expression level.
“Our’s is the first report that shows POMx inhibits the inflammatory activity of activated human mast cells [known to play a central role in the inflammatory process] like KU812 cells,” wrote the researchers from the University of South Carolina and Case Western Reserve University.
“POMx or POMx-derived compounds may be of value for the treatment of inflammatory diseases in which mast cells play an active role,” they added.
If the study can be repeated in humans it offers promise for preventing chronic inflammation, brought about by an over-expression or lack of control of the normal protective mechanism. Chronic inflammation has been linked to range of conditions linked to heart disease, osteoporosis, cognitive decline and Alzheimer's, type-2 diabetes, and arthritis.
Pomegranate, a rich source of antioxidants, has been linked to improved heart health, but a growing body of science indicates the fruit protect against prostate cancer. Studies have also reported a role in joint health by slowing cartilage loss in arthritis.
It is these antioxidants, and particularly ellagitannin compounds like punicalagins and punicalins, which accounts for about half of the fruit's antioxidant ability, that are reportedly behind the proposed health benefits.
“No studies have been undertaken to investigate whether a polyphenol-rich pomegranate fruit extract (POMx) inhibits the inflammatory activity of activated human mast cells and basophils,” said the researchers. “The aim of this study was to examine whether POMx modulates inflammatory reactions using human basophilic cell line KU812.”
The cells were stimulated with a compound (PMACI) to promote an inflammatory response, and incubated with the pomegranate extract. Analysis of the cells showed a significant decrease in the production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8.
The extract was also found to suppress the activation of a protein complex called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB), which plays an important role in the regulation of the immune system’s response to infection.
“We […] wish to point out that the in vivo efficacy of the extract used here has already been shown by us in an animal model of inflammatory arthritis indicating that after oral consumption pomegranate metabolites can exert anti-inflammatory effect in vivo,” wrote the researchers.
Source: Journal of Inflammation 2009, 6:1“Polyphenol-rich pomegranate fruit extract (POMx) suppresses PMACI-induced expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines by inhibiting the activation of MAP Kinases and NF-κB in human KU812 cells” Authors: Z. Rasheed, N. Akhtar, A.N. Anbazhagan, S. Ramamurthy, M. Shukla, T.M. Haqqi To read the full study, please click here .