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Open Access Highly Accessed Commentary

Luteolin as a therapeutic option for multiple sclerosis

Theoharis C Theoharides

Author Affiliations

Molecular Immunopharmacology and Drug Discovery Laboratory, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA

Department of Internal Medicine, Biochemistry and Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA

Journal of Neuroinflammation 2009, 6:29  doi:10.1186/1742-2094-6-29

Published: 13 October 2009

Abstract

Multiple sclerosis (MS) remains without an effective treatment in spite of intense research efforts. Interferon-beta (IFN-β) reduces duration and severity of symptoms in many relapsing-remitting MS patients, but its mechanism of action is still not well understood. Moreover, IFN-β and other available treatments must be given parenterally and have a variety of adverse effects. Certain naturally occurring flavonoids, such as luteolin, have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, including inhibition of activated peripheral blood leukocytes from MS patients. Luteolin also inhibits mast cells, as well as mast cell-dependent T cell activation, recently implicated in MS pathogenesis. Moreover, luteolin and structurally similar flavonoids can inhibit experimental allergic allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of MS in rodents. An appropriate luteolin formulation that permits sufficient absorption and reduces its metabolism could be a useful adjuvant to IFN-β for MS therapy.