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Chinese herbal extracts of Rubia cordifolia and Dianthus superbus suppress IgE production and prevent peanut-induced anaphylaxis

Iván López-Expósito12, Alexandra Castillo1, Nan Yang1, Banghao Liang1 and Xiu-Min Li1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029-6574, USA

2 Current Address: Institute of Food Science Research (CSIC-UAM), C/Nicolás Cabrera 9, 28049, Madrid, Spain

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Chinese Medicine 2011, 6:35  doi:10.1186/1749-8546-6-35

Published: 30 September 2011



Peanut allergy is characterized by increased levels of peanut-specific IgE in the serum of most patients. Thus, the most logical therapy would be to inhibit the IgE production by committed B-cells. This study aims to investigate the unreported anti-IgE effects of Chinese herbal extracts of Rubia cordifolia (Qiancao) and Dianthus superbus (Qumai).


Seventy herbal extracts were tested for their ability to reduce IgE secretion by a human B-cell line. Those with the lowest inhibitory concentration 50 (IC50) values were tested in a mouse model of peanut-anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic scores, body temperature, plasma histamine and peanut-specific-immunoglobulins were determined.


Rubia cordifolia and Dianthus superbus inhibited the in vitro IgE production by a human B-cell line in a dose-dependent manner and the in vivo IgE production in a murine model of peanut allergy without affecting peanut-specific-IgG1 levels. After challenge, all mice in the sham groups developed anaphylactic reactions and increased plasma histamine levels. The extract-treated mice demonstrated significantly reduced peanut-triggered anaphylactic reactions and plasma histamine levels.


The extracts of Rubia cordifolia and Dianthus superbus inhibited the IgE production in vivo and in vitro as well as reduced anaphylactic reactions in peanut-allergic mice, suggesting potentials for allergy treatments.