Open Access Research article

Morus alba and active compound oxyresveratrol exert anti-inflammatory activity via inhibition of leukocyte migration involving MEK/ERK signaling

Yi-Ching Chen1, Yin-Jing Tien2, Chun-Houh Chen2, Francesca N Beltran3, Evangeline C Amor3, Ran-Juh Wang4, Den-Jen Wu4, Clément Mettling5, Yea-Lih Lin5 and Wen-Chin Yang1678*

Author Affiliations

1 Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center, Academia Sinica, 128, Sec. 2, Academia Road, Nankang, Taipei 11501, Taiwan

2 Institute of Statistical Science, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

3 Institute of Chemistry, College of Science, University of the Philippines, Quezon City, Philippines

4 Miaoli District Agricultural Research and Extension Station, Council of Agriculture, Miaoli, Taiwan

5 Institut de Génétique Humaine (CNRS UPR-1142), Montpellier, France

6 Department of Life Sciences, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung 402, Taiwan

7 Institute of Pharmacology, Yang-Ming University, Taipei, 112, Taiwan

8 Institute of Zoology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, 106, Taiwan

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:45  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-45

Published: 23 February 2013



Morus alba has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat inflammatory diseases; however, the scientific basis for such usage and the mechanism of action are not well understood. This study investigated the action of M. alba on leukocyte migration, one key step in inflammation.


Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and cluster analyses of supercritical CO2 extracts of three Morus species were performed for chemotaxonomy-aided plant authentication. Phytochemistry and CXCR4-mediated chemotaxis assays were used to characterize the chemical and biological properties of M. alba and its active compound, oxyresveratrol. fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and Western blot analyses were conducted to determine the mode of action of oxyresveratrol.


Chemotaxonomy was used to help authenticate M. alba. Chemotaxis-based isolation identified oxyresveratrol as an active component in M. alba. Phytochemical and chemotaxis assays showed that the crude extract, ethyl acetate fraction and oxyresveratrol from M. alba suppressed cell migration of Jurkat T cells in response to SDF-1. Mechanistic study indicated that oxyresveratrol diminished CXCR4-mediated T-cell migration via inhibition of the MEK/ERK signaling cascade.


A combination of GC-MS and cluster analysis techniques are applicable for authentication of the Morus species. Anti-inflammatory benefits of M. alba and its active compound, oxyresveratrol, may involve the inhibition of CXCR-4-mediated chemotaxis and MEK/ERK pathway in T and other immune cells.

Chemotaxis; CXCR4; Morus; Phytochemistry and T-cells