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Title: Immunomodulatory Effects of Safflower Leaf (Carthamus tinctorius)

item Lee, Sung Eun
item Lillehoj, Hyun
item Heckert, Robert
item Tuo, Wenbin

Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/15/2007
Publication Date: 2/20/2008
Citation: Lee, S., Lillehoj, H.S., Heckert, R.A., Chun, H., Cho, S., Tuo, W. 2008. Immunomodulatory Effects of Safflower Leaf (Carthamus tinctorius)on Chicken lymphocytes and macrophages. Journal of Poultry Science. 45:147-151

Interpretive Summary: Recentstudies have demonstrated that many dietary components enhance host immunity to resist infectious diseases and tumor. Recent interest in the nutrition-based enhancement of host immunity in humans has spawned new interest in discovering and exploring the potential immune-stimulating properties of naturally occurring dietary substances from plants. In this report, ARS scientists collaborated with scientists at the Rural Development Administration to test the effect of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), a common herbal plant widely used to enhance the health of humans and livestock, on chicken coccidiosis, an infectious disease which affects the growth of chickens by damaging the gut. The present report demonstrated for the first time that the safflower leaf contains immunostimulatory components and activates innate immunity of chickens. These results provide background information that is useful for industry scientists to develop a new strategy of dietary enhancement of chicken immunity using safflower leaf.

Technical Abstract: Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) has been used as a traditional medicinal plant to enhance natural immunity and treat cancers. However, limited information exists on the mechanisms responsible for its immune enhancing properties. In this study, the immunostimulatory effects of a methanol extract (ME) of safflower leaf were assessed by in vitro lymphocyte proliferation, tumor cell cytotoxicity, and nitric oxide production by cultured macrophages. A crude ME of safflower leaf stimulated spleen lymphocyte proliferation and nitric oxide production, and inhibited the viability of tumor cells significantly greater than media controls. Sequential gel filtration chromatographic separation of the ME extract on Sephadex G-25 and Sephacryl S-200 columns resulted in a partially purified preparation that retained the ability to induce lymphoproliferation, tumor killing, and NO production. These results demonstrate for the first time that safflower leaf contains immunostimulatory and anti-tumor component(s) that may be potentially useful in human and veterinary medicine.