Discovery of new plant-derived immune-modulating substances

Autoimmune diseases are common, one in 20 humans suffers from autoimmune dysfunction. The treatment of these diseases has a number of challenges. The medicines used may lose their efficacy over time. Furthermore, limitations of these drugs are that patients may suffer from side-effects, non-responsiveness and higher susceptibility to infections. It is also important to mention that treatment with these drugs is expensive.

Therefore, it is important to look for alternatives, which was the focus of this research. A library with more than 600 plant extracts from Panama, was screened for potential inhibiting effects on specific immune cells. One of the extracts that appeared to be of special interest by showing strong effects, Hyptis brachiata, was phytochemically profiled. That means, several chemical separation techniques were applied to isolate various different substances, to find out which constituents are responsible for the shown effect.

Therefore, we analysed different parameters of T-cell function. Aryltetralin lignans strongly suppressed T-lymphocyte proliferation, whereas triterpenes from this extract appeared to weakly reduce the secretion of inflammatory cytokines. As production of cytokines and surface activation markers also play a role in immune modulation, this study also investigated if the H. brachiata extract of interest was capable of eliciting any changes.

The observed inhibitory effect of the H. brachiata extract on T-lymphocyte proliferation could possibly be explained by an interplay between different constituents of the extract.


Keller, Morris and Winker, Moritz and Zimmermann-Klemd, Amy Marisa and Sperisen, Nino and Gupta, Mahabir P. and Solis, Pablo N. and Hamburger, Matthias and Potterat, Olivier and Gründemann, Carsten. (2023) Aryltetralin lignans from Hyptis brachiata inhibiting T lymphocyte proliferation. Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, 160. p. 114328.

iscovery of new plant-derived immune-modulating substances