Anti-asthmatic activity of alkaloid compounds from Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae (Citrus reticulata ‘Chachi’)†
Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae (PCR, Citrus reticulata ‘Chachi’, Guangchenpi in Chinese) is one of the most famous Chinese citrus herbal medicines. The in vivo anti-asthmatic activity of ‘Chachi’ PCR was investigated using a histamine-induced experimental asthma model in Guinea pigs. Two alkaloid-type compounds, synephrine and stachydrine, were analyzed and identified in the ‘Chachi’ PCR alkaloid fraction. The alkaloid fraction and synephrine protected Guinea pigs against histamine-induced experimental asthma in a dose-dependent manner. The respective application of high, middle, and low doses of the ‘Chachi’ PCR alkaloid fraction significantly increased specific airway resistance by 284%, 328%, and 355%, and decreased dynamic compliance by 57%, 67%, and 75%. A similar change was observed for synephrine. The expression of eosinophils in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and serum IgE, IL-4, and IL-5 levels in histamine-induced experimental asthmatic Guinea pigs were significantly downregulated by the ‘Chachi’ PCR alkaloid fraction and synephrine compared to the control group, whereas stachydrine did not impart a statistically significant effect on the expression of tested inflammatory cells (leucocytes, eosinophils, neutrophils, and lymphocytes), immunoglobulin (IgE), or cytokines (IL-4 and IL-5). Pathological changes in lung tissues in each treatment group included the infiltration of inflammatory cells around the bronchia.