Osthole, an active component of Chinese herbal medicines, reportedly possesses various pharmacological properties and has potential therapeutic applications. This study explored the anti-allergic effects of osthole in asthmatic mice and investigated the immunomodulatory actions of osthole on dendritic cells (DCs) and T cells. Herein, we show that oral administration of osthole to BALB/c mice after ovalbumin (OVA) sensitization ameliorated all of the cardinal features of T helper 2 (Th2)-mediated allergic asthma; namely, the production of OVA-specific immunoglobulin E, airway hyperresponsiveness, airway inflammation and the production of Th2-type cytokines including interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5 and IL-13. Surprisingly, IL-10 production was not inhibited and was even enhanced by osthole treatment. We observed a significant increase in the percentages of IL-10-producing DCs and forkhead box P3-positive regulatory T (Treg) cells in osthole-treated asthmatic mice. Additionally, in vitro analyses revealed that osthole-treated bone-marrow-derived DCs had a partial maturation phenotype, secreting large amounts of IL-10 and low levels of proinflammatory cytokines, such as IL-12, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α, and displaying reduced levels of MHC class II surface molecules. These DCs displayed immunosuppressive capacity by directly inhibiting effector T-cell responses or inducing Treg cells. In addition, osthole directly inhibited the activated CD4+ T-cell proliferation and Th1/Th2-type cytokine production in this system. Collectively, these results suggest that DCs and T cells are potential target cells responsible for the action of osthole against allergic asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)935-947
Number of pages13
JournalCellular and Molecular Immunology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2017


  • T cell
  • asthma
  • dendritic cell
  • osthole

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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