Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Journal of Inflammation and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research

Polyphenol-rich pomegranate fruit extract (POMx) suppresses PMACI-induced expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines by inhibiting the activation of MAP Kinases and NF-κB in human KU812 cells

Zafar Rasheed1, Nahid Akhtar1, Arivarasu N Anbazhagan1, Sangeetha Ramamurthy1, Meenakshi Shukla2 and Tariq M Haqqi1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, Microbiology, & Immunology, School of Medicine, University of South Carolina, 6439 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia, SC-29209, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH-44106, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Journal of Inflammation 2009, 6:1  doi:10.1186/1476-9255-6-1

Published: 8 January 2009



Mast cells and basophils are multifunctional effector cells and contain plentiful secretary granules in their cytoplasm. These cell types are involved in several inflammatory and immune events and are known to produce an array of mediators including a broad spectrum of cytokines. Pomegranate fruit is rich in anthocyanins and hydrolysable tannins; a group of polyphenolic compounds shown to be potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory activity. However, no studies have been undertaken to investigate whether a polyphenol-rich pomegranate fruit extract (POMx) inhibits the inflammatory activity of activated human mast cells and basophils. The aim of this study was to examine whether POMx modulates inflammatory reactions using human basophilic cell line KU812.


KU812 cells were stimulated with phorbol-12-myristate 13-acetate plus calcium inophore A23187 (PMACI). The inhibitory effect of POMx on pro-inflammatory cytokine gene expression and production by stimulated KU812 cells was measured by quantitative RT-PCR, and cytokine-specific ELISA assays, respectively. Western blotting was used to analyze the effect of POMx on the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and the nuclear factor (NF)-κB in PMACI stimulated KU812 cells. Effect on the activity of NF-κB was determined using Luciferase reporter assay. Significance of differences from control values were analyzed by means of standard statistical methods.


POMx significantly decreased PMACI stimulated inflammatory gene expression and production of interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8 in KU812 cells. The inhibitory effect of POMx on the pro-inflammatory cytokines was MAPK subgroups c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)- and extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK) dependent. In addition, POMx suppressed the NF-κB activation induced by PMACI by inhibiting IκB-degradation in human basophil cells. POMx also suppressed the powerful induction of NF-κB promoter-mediated luciferase activity in transiently transfected KU812 cells.


These novel pharmacological actions of POMx provide new suggestion that POMx or POMx-derived compounds may be of therapeutic use for the treatment of inflammatory diseases by suppressing mast cells/basophils activation.