The incidence of allergies has recently been increasing worldwide. Immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated hypersensitivity is central to the pathogenesis of asthma, hay fever and other allergic diseases. Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) and its extracts have been valued for their medical properties including antinausea, antiinflammation, antipyresis and analgesia properties. In this study, we investigated the antiallergic effects of ginger and 6-gingerol, a major compound of ginger, using a mouse allergy model and primary/cell line culture system. In mice with ovalbumin (OVA)-induced allergic rhinitis, oral administration of 2% ginger diet reduced the severity of sneezing and nasal rubbing by nasal sensitization of OVA and suppressed infiltration of mast cells in nasal mucosa and secretion of OVA-specific IgE in serum. 6-Gingerol inhibited the expression of not only Th2 cytokines but also Th1 cytokines in OVA-sensitized spleen cells. Accordingly, 6-gingerol suppressed in vitro differentiation of both Th1 cells and Th2 cells from naïve T cells. In addition, 6-gingerol suppressed both superantigen staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB)- and anti-CD3-induced T cell proliferation. 6-Gingerol also abrogated PMA plus ionomycin- and SEB-induced IL-2 production in T cells, suggesting that 6-gingerol affected T cell receptor-mediated signal transduction rather than the antigen-presentation process. Indeed, 6-gingerol inhibited the phosphorylation of MAP kinases, calcium release and nuclear localization of c-fos and NF-κB by PMA and ionomycin stimulation. Thus, our results demonstrate that 6-gingerol suppresses cytokine production for T cell activation and proliferation, thereby not causing B cell and mast cell activation and resulting in prevention or alleviation of allergic rhinitis symptoms.
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