Boswellic acids: biological actions and molecular targets.

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Curr Med Chem. 2006;13(28):3359-69.
Boswellic acids: biological actions and molecular targets.
Poeckel D, Werz O.
Department
of Pharmaceutical Analytics, Institute of Pharmacy,
Eberhard-Karls-University Tuebingen, Auf der Morgenstelle 8, 72076
Tuebingen, Germany.

Gum resin extracts
of Boswellia species have been traditionally applied in folk medicine
for centuries to treat various chronic inflammatory diseases, and
experimental data from animal models and studies with human subjects
confirmed the potential of B. spec extracts for the treatment of not
only inflammation but also of cancer. Analysis of the ingredients of
these extracts revealed that the pentacyclic triterpenes boswellic
acids (BAs) possess biological activities and appear to be responsible
for the respective pharmacological actions. Approaches in order to
elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying the biological effects of
BAs identified 5-lipoxygenase, human leukocyte elastase, toposiomerase
I and II, as well as IkappaB kinases as molecular targets of BAs.
Moreover, it was shown that depending on the cell type and the
structure of the BAs, the compounds differentially interfere with
signal transduction pathways including Ca(2+/-) and MAPK signaling in
various blood cells, related to functional cellular processes important
for inflammatory reactions and tumor growth. This review summarizes the
biological actions of BAs on the cellular and molecular level and
attempts to put the data into perspective of the beneficial effects
manifested in animal studies and trials with human subjects related to
inflammation and cancer.