Lignans from Carthamus tinctorius suppress tryptophan breakdown via indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase.Phytomedicine. 2013 Oct 15; 20(13):1190-5.P
Seed extracts of Carthamus tinctorius L. (Asteraceae), safflower, have been traditionally used to treat coronary disease, thrombotic disorders, and menstrual problems but also against cancer and depression. A possible effect of C. tinctorius compounds on tryptophan-degrading activity of enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) could explain many of its activities. To test for an effect of C. tinctorius extracts and isolated compounds on cytokine-induced IDO activity in immunocompetent cells in vitro methanol and ethylacetate seed extracts were prepared from cold pressed seed cakes of C. tinctorius and three lignan derivatives, trachelogenin, arctigenin and matairesinol were isolated. The influence on tryptophan breakdown was investigated in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Effects were compared to neopterin production in the same cellular assay. Both seed extracts suppressed tryptophan breakdown in stimulated PBMC. The three structurally closely related isolates exerted differing suppressive activity on PBMC: arctigenin (IC50 26.5μM) and trachelogenin (IC50 of 57.4μM) showed higher activity than matairesinol (IC50 >200μM) to inhibit tryptophan breakdown. Effects on neopterin production were similar albeit generally less strong. Data show an immunosuppressive property of compounds which slows down IDO activity. The in vitro results support the view that some of the anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antidepressant properties of C. tinctorius lignans might relate to their suppressive influence on tryptophan breakdown.