From medicinal plant extracts to defined chemical compounds targeting the histamine H4 receptor: Curcuma longa in the treatment of inflammation



The aim was to evaluate the activity of seven medicinal, anti-inflammatory plants at the hH4R with focus on defined chemical compounds from Curcuma longa.


Activities were analyzed with membrane preparations from Sf9 cells, transiently expressing the hH4R, Gαi2 and Gβ1γ2 subunits.


From the methanolic extract of C. longa curcumin (1), demethoxycurcumin (2) and bis(4-hydroxy-cinnamoyl)methane (3) were isolated, purified with HPLC (elution-time 10.20, 9.66, 9.20 min, respectively) and together with six additional extracts, were characterized via radioligand binding studies at the hH4R.


Compounds from C. longa were the most potent ligands at the hH4R. They exhibited estimated K i values of 4.26–6.26 µM (1.57–2.31 µg/mL) (1); 6.66––8.97 µM (2.26–3.04 µg/mL) (2) and 10.24–14.57 µM (3.16–4.49 µg/mL) (3) (95% CI). The estimated K i value of the crude extract of curcuma was 0.50–0.81 µg/mL. Fractionated curcumin and the crude extract surpassed the effect of pure curcumin with a K i value of 5.54 µM or 2.04 µg/mL [95% CI (4.47–6.86 µM), (1.65–2.53 µg/mL)].


Within this study, defined compounds of C. longa were recognized as potential ligands and reasonable lead structures at the hH4R. The mode of anti-inflammatory action of curcumin was further elucidated and the role of extracts in traditional phytomedicine was strengthened.

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This study was supported by the Al-Qasemi Research Foundation, the Ministry of Science, Space and Technology, BM0806, CM1204 and CA15125 COST Actions as well as DFG INST 208/664 and GRK2158. We declare that the funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Holger Stark.

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Responsible Editor: Bernhard Gibbs.

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Frank, A., Abu-Lafi, S., Adawi, A. et al. From medicinal plant extracts to defined chemical compounds targeting the histamine H4 receptor: Curcuma longa in the treatment of inflammation. Inflamm. Res. 66, 923–929 (2017).

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  • Curcuma longa
  • Natural compounds
  • hH4R
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Phenylpropanoids