Review article

Overview of the anti-inflammatory effects, pharmacokinetic properties and clinical efficacies of arctigenin and arctiin from Arctium lappa L

Authors: Qiong GAO1, Mengbi YANG1, Zhong ZUO1
1 School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China
Corresponding to: Zhong ZUO:,
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2018.32
Received: 30 October 2017
Accepted: 7 January 2018
Advance online: 26 April 2018


Arctigenin (AR) and its glycoside, arctiin, are two major active ingredients of Arctium lappa L (A lappa), a popular medicinal herb and health supplement frequently used in Asia. In the past several decades, bioactive components from A lappa have attracted the attention of researchers due to their promising therapeutic effects. In the current article, we aimed to provide an overview of the pharmacology of AR and arctiin, focusing on their anti-inflammatory effects, pharmacokinetics properties and clinical efficacies. Compared to acrtiin, AR was reported as the most potent bioactive component of A lappa in the majority of studies. AR exhibits potent anti-inflammatory activities by inhibiting inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) via modulation of several cytokines. Due to its potent anti-inflammatory effects, AR may serve as a potential therapeutic compound against both acute inflammation and various chronic diseases. However, pharmacokinetic studies demonstrated the extensive glucuronidation and hydrolysis of AR in liver, intestine and plasma, which might hinder its in vivo and clinical efficacy after oral administration. Based on the reviewed pharmacological and pharmacokinetic characteristics of AR, further pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies of AR via alternative administration routes are suggested to promote its ability to serve as a therapeutic agent as well as an ideal bioactive marker for A lappa.
Keywords: arctigenin; arctiin; Arctium lappa L; Fructus Arctii; anti-inflammatory agents; pharmacokinetics; clinical efficacy