Open Access Research article

Artemisia annua L.: evidence of sesquiterpene lactones’ fraction antinociceptive activity

Fabricio de Faveri Favero12*, Rogério Grando1, Fabiana R Nonato1, Ilza MO Sousa1, Núbia CA Queiroz1, Giovanna B Longato1, Rafael RT Zafred1, João E Carvalho12, Humberto M Spindola1 and Mary A Foglio12

Author Affiliations

1 CPQBA, University of Campinas, P.O. Box 6171, 13083-970 Campinas, SP, Brazil

2 Department of Pharmacology, Anesthesiology and Therapeutics, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Campinas, P.O. Box 52, 13414-903 Piracicaba, SP, Brazil

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:266  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-266

Published: 28 July 2014



Artemisia annua L. has been used for many centuries in Chinese traditional medicine. Artemisinin, the active principle was first isolated and identified in the 1970s becoming the global back bone to the fight against malaria. Our research group previously developed an economic and ecological friendly process to obtain this compound. In the pursuit to also exploit the residue generated throughout the process we further evaluated the pharmacological potential of that extract.


The alcoholic crude extract after artemisinin precipitation maintained an enriched sesquiterpene lactones content with residue artemisinin (1.72%) and deoxyartemisinin (0.31%), used as chemical markers for this sample. This study evaluated the pharmacological potential of the enriched sesquiterpene lactone fraction (Lac-FR) on different nociceptive and inflammatory experimental animal models. Previous findings on the biological properties of lactones obtained from natural products permitted us to explore the antinociceptive activities of these compounds based on in vivo chemical-induced behavioral assays.


The enriched sesquiterpene lactone fraction (Lac-FR) was administrated by intraperitoneal injection producing a relevant reduction in the reaction time of the animals in both phases of the formalin test, significantly reduced the sensitivity to mechanical allodynia stimulus, reduced the paw edema caused by carrageenan injection and promoted high antinociceptive activity in tail flick model suggesting relationship with the opioid system. Further studies are being undertaken to elucidate the active components involved with the antinociceptive activity as well as evaluation of synergy effect that is seen by combination of substances that is greater than would be expected from consideration of individual contributions.


For the first time, results presented herein provided consistent data to support the potential use of these lactones for pain relief as revealed by chemical-induced nociception assays in mice.