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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Inhibitory effects of inhaled complex traditional Chinese medicine on early and late asthmatic responses induced by ovalbumin in sensitized guinea pigs

Hung-Chou Chang13, Cheng-Chung Gong12, Ji-Liang Chen1 and Oi-Tong Mak14*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Life Sciences, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan

2 Department of Medical Technology, Chung Hwa University of Medicine Technology, Tainan 717, Taiwan

3 Office of the Principal, Tainan Tzu-Chi Senior High School, Tainan 708, Taiwan

4 Department of Healthcare Department, University of Kang Ning, Tainan 709, Taiwan

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:80  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-80

Published: 24 September 2011



Many formulae of traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) have been used for antiasthma treatment dating back many centuries. There is evidence to suggest that TCMs are effective as a cure for this allergenic disease administered via gastric tubes in animal studies; however, their efficacy, safety and side effects as an asthmatic therapy are still unclear.


In this study, guinea pigs sensitized with ovalbumin (OVA) were used as an animal model for asthma challenge, and the sensitization of animals by bronchial reactivity to methacholine (Mch) and the IgE concentration in the serum after OVA challenge were estimated. Complex traditional Chinese herbs (CTCM) were administered to the animals by nebulization, and the leukocytes were evaluated from bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF).


The results showed that inhalation of CTCM could abolish the increased lung resistance (13-fold increase) induced by challenge with OVA in the early asthmatic response (EAR), reducing to as low as baseline (1-fold). Moreover, our results indicated higher IgE levels (range, 78-83 ng/ml) in the serum of sensitized guinea pigs than in the unsensitized controls (0.9 ± 0.256 ng/ml). In addition, increased total leukocytes and higher levels of eosinophils and neutrophils were seen 6 hours after challenge, and the increased inflammatory cells were reduced by treatment with CTCM inhalation. The interleukin-5 (IL-5) level in BALF was also reduced by CTCM.


Our findings indicate a novel method of administering traditional Chinese medicines for asthma treatment in an animal model that may be more effective than traditional methods.

asthma; Chinese medicine; guinea pig; nebulization; ovalbumin