Tryptanthrin, a biologically active compound found in the medicinal plant Polygonum tinctorium, reportedly has several biological activities. We investigated the effects of tryptanthrin on cytokine production by lymphocytes in response to staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB), which causes a variety of disorders in humans based on its induction of large amounts of immunostimulatory cytokines. Tryptanthrin dose-dependently inhibited interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and interleukin-2 production by mouse spleen cells and Peyer's patch (PP) lymphocytes in vitro. The efficacy of tryptanthrin was further studied in a mouse model in vivo. Tryptanthrin was administered orally 2 h after an oral challenge with SEB. Nineteen hours after SEB administration, PP lymphocytes were prepared, and IFN-γ production by PP lymphocytes was examined. The production of IFN-γ increased after SEB administration, and the elevated IFN-γ production was significantly inhibited by tryptanthrin treatment. These results suggest that tryptanthrin may be effective in the treatment of disorders of the intestines, such as food poisoning, that are associated with activated lymphocytes.
2003 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan