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Luteolin stars in study of healthful plant compounds

Date:
July 16, 2010
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
New studies are providing some of the missing details about how natural compounds in plants may protect us against inflammation.

Studies led by ARS molecular biologist Daniel H. Hwang are providing new information about phytochemicals that inhibit TBK1, a signaling enzyme associated with inflammation in the body.
Credit: Photo by Stephen Ausmus

Natural compounds in plants may protect us against unwanted inflammation. However, human nutrition researchers agree that many questions remain about exactly how these compounds, known as phytochemicals, do that.

Studies led by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) molecular biologist Daniel H. Hwang are providing some of the missing details.

Certain kinds of inflammation can increase risk of cancer and of some other disorders, including heart disease and insulin resistance, according to Hwang. He's with the ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center at the University of California-Davis.

Some of Hwang's on-going studies build upon earlier research in which he and colleagues teased out precise details of how six natural compounds in plants -- luteolin, quercetin, chrysin, eriodicytol, hesperetin, and naringenin -- apparently act as anti-inflammatory agents.

Luteolin is found in celery, thyme, green peppers, and chamomile tea. Foods rich in quercetin include capers, apples, and onions. Chrysin is from the fruit of blue passionflower, a tropical vine. Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and other citrus fruits are good sources of eriodicytol, hesperetin, and naringenin.

Hwang's team showed, for the first time, that all six plant compounds target an enzyme known as "TBK1." Each compound inhibits, to a greater or lesser extent, TBK1's ability to activate a specific biochemical signal. If unimpeded, the signal would lead to formation of gene products known to trigger inflammation.

Of the six compounds, luteolin was the most effective inhibitor of TBK1. Luteolin is already known to have anti-inflammatory properties. However, Hwang and his colleagues were the first to provide this new, mechanistic explanation of how luteolin exerts its anti-inflammatory effects.

The approaches that the researchers developed to uncover these compounds' effects can be used by scientists elsewhere to identify additional anti-inflammatory compounds present in fruits and vegetables.

Their findings on phytochemicals that act as TBK1 inhibitors appear in Biochemical Pharmacology and in the Journal of Immunology.

Read more about the research in the July 2010 issue of Agricultural Research magazine at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2010/www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jul10/plant0710.htm


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. The original article was written by Marcia Wood. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Luteolin stars in study of healthful plant compounds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100708141622.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2010, July 16). Luteolin stars in study of healthful plant compounds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100708141622.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Luteolin stars in study of healthful plant compounds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100708141622.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

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