Macrophage immunomodulatory activity of polysaccharides isolated from Juniperus scopolorum

Igor A. Schepetkin, Craig L. Faulkner, Laura K. Nelson-Overton, James A. Wiley, Mark T. Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)


Extracts of cones and leaves of different species of the genus Juniperus have been used for centuries to treat a variety of medical problems; however, little is known about the active components conferring therapeutic properties to these extracts. To address this issue, we extracted water-soluble polysaccharides from Juniperus scopolorum cones and used ion exchange and size exclusion chromatography to separate them into five fractions, with estimated Mr of 30, 60, 100, 200, and 680 kDa, respectively. All fractions contained type II arabinogalactan in their structure, as determined by reaction with Yariv reagent and structural analysis by proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, but lacked complement fixing activity. Analysis of the effects of Juniper polysaccharides on murine peritoneal macrophages, cultured J774.A1 macrophages, and human mononuclear phagocytes demonstrated that the high molecular weight polysaccharide fractions (200 and 680 kDa) had potent immunomodulatory activity. These polysaccharide fractions primed macrophages for an enhanced respiratory burst, directly stimulated NO production via induction of nitric oxide synthase, and induced macrophages to secrete both inflammatory (IL-1, IL-6, TNF-α, and IL-12) and anti-inflammatory (IL-10) cytokines. These data suggest that at least part of the beneficial therapeutic effects reported for extracts of juniper cones are due to modulation of monocyte/macrophage immune functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1783-1799
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Immunopharmacology
Issue number13-14
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • Immunomodulator
  • Juniperus scopolorum
  • Macrophage
  • Nitric oxide
  • Polysaccharide
  • Reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology

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