Echinacea spp. extracts and the derived phytocompounds have been shown to induce specific immune cell activities and are popularly used as food supplements or nutraceuticals for immuno-modulatory functions. Dendritic cells (DCs), the most potent antigen presenting cells, play an important role in both innate and adaptive immunities. In this study, we investigated the specific and differential gene expression in human immature DCs (iDCs) in response to treatment with a butanol fraction containing defined bioactive phytocompounds extracted from stems and leaves of Echinacea purpurea, that we denoted [BF/S+L/Ep].
Affymetrix DNA microarray results showed significant up regulation of specific genes for cytokines (IL-8, IL-1β, and IL-18) and chemokines (CXCL 2, CCL 5, and CCL 2) within 4 h after [BF/S+L/Ep] treatment of iDCs. Bioinformatics analysis of genes expressed in [BF/S+L/Ep]-treated DCs revealed a key-signaling network involving a number of immune-modulatory molecules leading to the activation of a downstream molecule, adenylate cyclase 8. Proteomic analysis showed increased expression of antioxidant and cytoskeletal proteins after treatment with [BF/S+L/Ep] and cichoric acid.
This study provides information on candidate target molecules and molecular signaling mechanisms for future systematic research into the immune-modulatory activities of an important traditional medicinal herb and its derived phytocompounds.