Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Beta-escin has potent anti-allergic efficacy and reduces allergic airway inflammation

Ines Lindner14, Christiane Meier1, Angelika Url2, Hermann Unger3, Andreas Grassauer1, Eva Prieschl-Grassauer1 and Petra Doerfler1*

Author Affiliations

1 Marinomed Biotechnologie GmbH, Veterinaerplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria

2 Institute of Pathology, Department of Patholobiology, Veterinary University Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria

3 Laboratory of Tropical Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary University Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria

4 Veterinary University Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria

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BMC Immunology 2010, 11:24  doi:10.1186/1471-2172-11-24

Published: 21 May 2010



Type I hypersensitivity is characterized by the overreaction of the immune system against otherwise innocuous substances. It manifests as allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, allergic asthma or atopic dermatitis if mast cells are activated in the respective organs. In case of systemic mast cell activation, life-threatening anaphylaxis may occur. Currently, type I hypersensitivities are treated either with glucocorticoids, anti-histamines, or mast cell stabilizers. Although these drugs exert a strong anti-allergic effect, their long-term use may be problematic due to their side-effects.


In the course of a routine in vitro screening process, we identified beta-escin as a potentially anti-allergic compound. Here we tested beta-escin in two mouse models to confirm this anti-allergic effect in vivo. In a model of the early phase of allergic reactions, the murine passive cutaneous anaphylaxis model, beta-escin inhibited the effects of mast cell activation and degranulation in the skin and dose-dependently prevented the extravasation of fluids into the tissue. Beta-escin also significantly inhibited the late response after antigen challenge in a lung allergy model with ovalbumin-sensitized mice. Allergic airway inflammation was suppressed, which was exemplified by the reduction of leucocytes, eosinophils, IL-5 and IL-13 in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Histopathological examinations further confirmed the reduced inflammation of the lung tissue. In both models, the inhibitory effect of beta-escin was comparable to the benchmark dexamethasone.


We demonstrated in two independent murine models of type I hypersensitivity that beta-escin has potent anti-allergic properties. These results and the excellent safety profile of beta-escin suggest a therapeutic potential of this compound for a novel treatment of allergic diseases.