Open Access Research article

Anti-Neuroinflammatory effects of the extract of Achillea fragrantissima

Anat Elmann1*, Sharon Mordechay1, Hilla Erlank1, Alona Telerman1, Miriam Rindner1 and Rivka Ofir2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Food Quality and Safety, Volcani Center, Agricultural Research Organization, Bet Dagan, 50250, Israel

2 Dead Sea & Arava Science Center and Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, 84105, Israel

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:98  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-98

Published: 21 October 2011



The neuroinflammatory process plays a central role in the initiation and progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, and involves the activation of brain microglial cells. During the neuroinflammatory process, microglial cells release proinflammatory mediators such as cytokines, matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO). In the present study, extracts from 66 different desert plants were tested for their effect on lipopolysaccharide (LPS) - induced production of NO by primary microglial cells. The extract of Achillea fragrantissima (Af), which is a desert plant that has been used for many years in traditional medicine for the treatment of various diseases, was the most efficient extract, and was further studied for additional anti-neuroinflammatory effects in these cells.


In the present study, the ethanolic extract prepared from Af was tested for its anti-inflammatory effects on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated primary cultures of brain microglial cells. The levels of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) secreted by the cells were determined by reverse transcriptase-PCR and Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), respectively. NO levels secreted by the activate cells were measured using Griess reagent, ROS levels were measured by 2'7'-dichlorofluorescein diacetate (DCF-DA), MMP-9 activity was measured using gel zymography, and the protein levels of the proinflammatory enzymes cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and induced nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) were measured by Western blot analysis. Cell viability was assessed using Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity in the media conditioned by the cells or by the crystal violet cell staining.


We have found that out of the 66 desert plants tested, the extract of Af was the most efficient extract and inhibited ~70% of the NO produced by the LPS-activated microglial cells, without affecting cell viability. In addition, this extract inhibited the LPS - elicited expression of the proinflammatory mediators IL-1β, TNFα, MMP-9, COX-2 and iNOS in these cells.


Thus, phytochemicals present in the Af extract could be beneficial in preventing/treating neurodegenerative diseases in which neuroinflammation is part of the pathophysiology.

Achillea fragrantissima; microglial cells; neuroinflammation; nitric oxide; matrix metalloproteinase-9; cyclooxygenase-2