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Cat’s claw

Uncaria tomentosa

Pentacyclic alkaloids in cat’s claw help boost lymphocyte levels

Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is popularly used to treat allergies, inflammations, infections and other diseases. Two chemically distinct varieties (chemotypes) of the plant exist, distinguishable by the type of alkaloids they possess: One has mainly tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids (TOAs), while the other yields primarily pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (POAs). Building on previous work that showed that POAs enhance phagocytosis of granulocytes and macrophages and block proliferation of certain cell lines, the present in vitro experiment provided evidence that POAs, but not TOAs, induce human endothelial cells to release a substance that significantly enhances proliferation of lymphocytes. In contrast, the presence of TOAs in the same reaction mixture inhibited this activity in a dose-dependent manner. More than one factor may be involved in the regulation of lymphocyte proliferation.

Wurm M, Kacani L, Laus G, et al. Pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids from Uncaria tomentosa induce human endothelial cells to release a lymphocyte-proliferation regulating factor. Planta Medica 1998; 64: 701-704.

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