Pharmacokinetics and immunomodulatory effect of lipophilic Echinacea extract formulated in softgel capsules

Stefano Dall'Acqua, Beatrice Perissutti, Iztok Grabnar, Rossella Farra, Manola Comar, Chiara Agostinis, Gabriella Caristi, Samuel Golob, Dario Voinovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An attractive herbal product, softgel capsules containing 10 mg of Echinacea angustifolia lipophilic extract, was given in a single oral administration to 10 human volunteers to perform a pharmacokinetic and immunological study. The plasma concentration of the major constituent was monitored, quantifying at predetermined time points the dodeca-2E,4E,8Z,10E/Z-tetraenoic isobutylamides (tetraene). The plasmatic levels of IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10 and TNF-a in samples collected before and 24 h after drug administration were analyzed by cytokine assay. The total RNA was extracted from limpho-monocyte isolated from the same blood samples and the same cytokines in terms of gene expression were evaluated. With the help of proper statistical tests the differences between the values obtained at 0 and 24 h were evaluated. Results of pharmacokinetic studies attest an approximately 3.5-fold improvement of tetraene oral bioavailability compared with previously published studies. Dodeca-2E,4E-dienoic acid isobutylamide exerts immunomodulatory effects down-regulating the gene expression and reducing the protein plasmatic levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6, TNF-α and IL-8, and up-regulating the expression of anti-inflammatory molecules as IL-10. Student's two-sided paired t-test and non-parametric Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney signed rank test agree in the conclusions about the differences between the ln values at 24 h and corresponding ln values at 0 h.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-14
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Echinacea angustifolia lipophilic extract
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Pro-inflammatory cytokines
  • Softgel capsules
  • Tetraene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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