Mechanistic insights into Old English plants
Plants from the Queen’s Garden at Kew have been investigated for their potential to treat auto-immune diseases.
09 Jul 2012
Jasminum humile inhibits calcineurin (Image: Geoffrey Kite)
Often lacking in natural product drug discovery are ‘mechanistic insights’; that is, insights into the events at the molecular level that are behind any effects that plant compounds have on cells or organisms. With this in mind, Tom Prescott screened 250 Old English plants from the Queen’s Garden at Kew, to search for compounds that inhibit the human enzyme calcineurin. The results have been published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
Calcineurin plays an important role in regulating human T-cell activation in the immune response, and inhibition of this process can be beneficial in certain auto-immune diseases.
Nepeta cataria and Teucrium chamaedrys showed initial promise but the compounds responsible (phenylpropanoid glycosides) were only strongly active against the basal, un-activated form of the enzyme.
Jasmine more promising
Jasminum humile was found to be more promising as the ethanol extract inhibited both isolated human calcineurin enzyme and calcineurin-dependent gene expression in yeast cells. This demonstrated that plants do indeed produce compounds that directly inhibit calcineurin.
Item from Dr Tom Prescott (Natural Product Chemist, RBG Kew)
Kew Scientist, issue 40
Prescott, T. A. K., Veitch, N. C. & Simmonds, M. S. J. (2011). Direct inhibition of calcineurin by caffeoyl phenylethanoid glycosides from Teucrium chamaedrys and Nepeta cataria. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 137: 1306–1310.
Prescott, T. A. K., Ariño, J., Kite, G. C. & Simmonds, M. S. J. (2012). Inhibition of human calcineurin and yeast calcineurin-dependent gene expression by Jasminum humile leaf and root extracts. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 140: 293-297.
Help Kew break new ground and inspire new generations
By making a donation to Kew today you can help our scientists to find out more about the fascinating world of plants, break new ground and inspire generations of young people to get to know plants better.
Our scientific programmes are focused on understanding plants and conserving the world's plant life and habitats at risk. Plants are essential to life on earth. In a world where the sustainability of the planet’s rich biodiversity is becoming less certain, Kew’s science work is ever more critical. Find out how your donation can make a difference.
Browse Kew news
- In the Gardens
- Science and conservation
- How you are helping
- Specialist science
- Kew blogs
- All Kew news
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
- capacity building
- wet tropics
- focus families
- useful plants
- seed banking
- around the world
- South East Asia
- at risk
- new species
Kew on twitter
Unable to parse the data in the RSS file.