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Genomics and proteomics of immune modulatory effects of a butanol fraction of echinacea purpurea in human dendritic cells

Chien-Yu Wang1, Vanisree Staniforth1, Ming-Tsang Chiao1, Chia-Chung Hou1, Han-Ming Wu3, Kuo-Chen Yeh1, Chun-Houh Chen3, Pei-Ing Hwang3, Tuan-Nan Wen2, Lie-Fen Shyur1* and Ning-Sun Yang1*

Author Affiliations

1 Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei 115, Taiwan

2 Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology, Academia Sinica, Taipei 115, Taiwan

3 Institute of Statistical Science, Academia Sinica, Taipei 115, Taiwan

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:479  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-479

Published: 13 October 2008



Echinacea spp. extracts and the derived phytocompounds have been shown to induce specific immune cell activities and are popularly used as food supplements or nutraceuticals for immuno-modulatory functions. Dendritic cells (DCs), the most potent antigen presenting cells, play an important role in both innate and adaptive immunities. In this study, we investigated the specific and differential gene expression in human immature DCs (iDCs) in response to treatment with a butanol fraction containing defined bioactive phytocompounds extracted from stems and leaves of Echinacea purpurea, that we denoted [BF/S+L/Ep].


Affymetrix DNA microarray results showed significant up regulation of specific genes for cytokines (IL-8, IL-1β, and IL-18) and chemokines (CXCL 2, CCL 5, and CCL 2) within 4 h after [BF/S+L/Ep] treatment of iDCs. Bioinformatics analysis of genes expressed in [BF/S+L/Ep]-treated DCs revealed a key-signaling network involving a number of immune-modulatory molecules leading to the activation of a downstream molecule, adenylate cyclase 8. Proteomic analysis showed increased expression of antioxidant and cytoskeletal proteins after treatment with [BF/S+L/Ep] and cichoric acid.


This study provides information on candidate target molecules and molecular signaling mechanisms for future systematic research into the immune-modulatory activities of an important traditional medicinal herb and its derived phytocompounds.