Immune suppressive effect of cinnamaldehyde due to inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis in immune cells: Implications in cancer

Franziska Roth-Walter*, Anna Moskovskich, Cristina Gomez-Casado, Araceli Diaz-Perales, Kumiko Oida, Josef Singer, Tamar Kinaciyan, Heidemarie C. Fuchs, Erika Jensen-Jarolim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

42 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Besides its anti-inflammatory effects, cinnamaldehyde has been reported to have anti-carcinogenic activity. Here, we investigated its impact on immune cells. Methods: Activation of nuclear factor-kB by cinnamaldehyde (0-10 μg/ml) alone or in combination with lipopolysaccharide was assessed in THP1XBlue human monocytic cell line and in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Proliferation and secretion of cytokines (IL10 and TNFα) was determined in primary immune cells and the human cell lines (THP1, Jurkat E6-1 and Raji cell lines) stimulated with cinnamaldehyde alone or in conjunction with lipopolysaccharide. Nitric oxide was determined in mouse RAW264.7 cells. Moreover, different treated PBMCs were stained for CD3, CD20 and AnnexinV.

Results: Low concentrations (up to 1 μg/ml) of cinnamaldehyde resulted in a slight increase in nuclar factor-kB activation, whereas higher concentrations led to a dose-dependent decrease of nuclear factor-kB activation (up to 50%) in lipopolysachharide-stimulated THP1 cells and PBMCs. Accordingly, nitric oxide, interleukin 10 secretion as well as cell proliferation were reduced in lipopolysachharide-stimulated RAW264.7 cells, PBMCs and THP1, Raji and Jurkat-E6 immune cells in the presence of cinnamaldehyde in a concentration-dependent manner. Flow cytometric analysis of PBMCs revealed that CD3+ were more affected than CD20+ cells to apopotosis by cinnamaldehyde.

Conclusion: We attribute the anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamaldehyde to its ability to block nuclear factor-κB activation in immune cells. Treatment with cinnamaldehyde led to inhibition of cell viability, proliferation and induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner in primary and immortalized immune cells. Therefore, despite its described anti-carcinogenic property, treatment with cinnamaldehyde in cancer patients might be contraindicated due to its ability to inhibit immune cell activation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere108402
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Multidisciplinary

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