Incensole acetate, a novel anti-inflammatory compound isolated from Boswellia resin, inhibits nuclear factor-κB activation

Arieh Moussaieff*, Esther Shohami, Yoel Kashman, Ester Fride, M. Lienhard Schmitz, Florian Renner, Bernd L. Fiebich, Eduardo Munoz, Yinon Ben-Neriah, Raphael Mechoulam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Boswellia resin is a major anti-inflammatory agent in herbal medical tradition, as well as a common food supplement. Its anti-inflammatory activity has been attributed to boswellic acid and its derivatives. Here, we re-examined the antiinflammatory effect of the resin, using inhibitor of nuclear factor-κBα (IκBα) degradation in tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α-stimulated HeLa cells for a bioassay-guided fractionation. We thus isolated two novel nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) inhibitors from the resin, their structures elucidated as incensole acetate (IA) and its nonacetylated form, incensole (IN). IA inhibited TAK/TAB-mediated IκB kinase (IKK) activation loop phosphorylation, resulting in the inhibition of cytokine and lipopolysaccharide-mediated NF-κB activation. It had no effect on IKK activity in vitro, and it did not suppress IκBα phosphorylation in costimulated T-cells, indicating that the kinase inhibition is neither direct nor does it affect all NF-κB activation pathways. The inhibitory effect seems specific; IA did not interfere with TNFα-induced activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. IA treatment had a robust anti-inflammatory effect in a mouse inflamed paw model. Cembrenoid diterpenoids, specifically IA and its derivatives, may thus constitute a potential novel group of NF-κB inhibitors, originating from an ancient anti-inflammatory herbal remedy.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1657-1664
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Pharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007


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