2009 Volume 109 Issue 4 Pages 606-617
Kujin, the dried root of Sophorae flavescensis, has been used in Chinese folklore medicine against allergy. Evaluation of its anti-allergic potential as well as its mechanism of action has rarely been established. We investigated the effect of Kujin on toluene-2,4-diisocyanate (TDI)-induced allergic behavior and related histamine signaling including mRNA levels of histamine H1 receptor (H1R) and histidine decarboxylase (HDC), H1R and HDC activities, and histamine content in rat nasal mucosa. We also investigated the effect of Kujin on the mRNA levels of helper T cell type 2 (Th2)-cytokine genes closely related to histamine signaling. TDI provocation caused acute allergic symptoms accompanied with up-regulations of H1R and HDC mRNAs and increases in HDC activity, histamine content, and [3H]mepyramine binding activity in the nasal mucosa, all of which were significantly suppressed by pretreatment with Kujin for 3 weeks. Kujin also suppressed the TDI-induced IL-4 and IL-5 mRNA elevations. These data suggest that oral administration of Kujin showed anti-allergic activity through suppression of histamine signaling by the inhibition of TDI-induced H1R and HDC mRNA elevations followed by decrease in H1R, HDC protein level, and histamine content in the nasal mucosa of TDI-sensitized rats. Suppression of Th2-cytokine signaling by Kujin also suggests that it could affect the histamine-cytokine network.