Potential benefits of Malva sylvestris in dry-eye disease

Dry eye disease (DED) affects 5-34% of the global population. It is manifest by a combination of eye related symptoms, such as grittiness, itchiness, burning sensations and visual disturbance. It can have a significant impact on the quality of life and is one of the most common reasons for ophthalmologist visits.

Therefore, we conducted a study to investigate the effects of a flower extract, a mucilage (slimy solution) and a polyphenol rich fraction of Malva sylvestris on cultured corneal epithelial cells and immune cells. The objective of the study was to investigate the ameliorating effects of the defined extracts against UVB-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) in human corneal epithelial cells. In addition, the effects on immune cells – mainly involved in the pathology of DED- were characterized. Furthermore, we determined the influence of the extract on lipid production, making use of the cell type that helps the tear film to evaporate less quickly, by producing lipid: the human meibomian gland epithelial cells.

We were able to demonstrate a potential benefit of M. sylvestris for the treatment of dry-eye disease, based on antioxidant, wound healing and anti-inflammatory effects. All three tested preparations showed reduction of ROS, and showed positive wound healing effects as well. In addition, the flower extract and the polyphenol fraction showed immune modulation by affecting the signalling in these immune cells. This shows the potential of M. sylvestris in the discovery of new therapeutic approaches.

(Source: Alexander Areesanan, Sven Nicolay, Morris Keller, Amy Marisa Zimmermann-Klemd, Olivier Potterat, Carsten Gründemann. Potential benefits of Malva sylvestris in dry-eye disease pathology in vitro based on antioxidant, wound-healing and anti-inflammatory properties, Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, Volume 168, 2023, 115782 or:

Malva Sylvestris