Biological activity and safety of tripterygium extract prepared by sodium carbonate extraction

Wei Fang, Fan Peng, Tao Yi, Cong Zhang, Chunxi Wan, Huibi Xu, Christopher Waikei Lam, Xiangliang Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The commercial preparation named "Tripterygium glycosides" prepared by column chromatography has been used for the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases with significant efficacy but concurrent toxicity. The aim of this study was to reduce the toxicity of Tripterygium extracts, using cytotoxicity and anti-inflammatory activity of the three principal active components of Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. F. (TWHF) as guiding parameters. Column chromatography was replaced by sodium carbonate extraction for removing the acidic compounds and enriching epoxyditerpenoids and alkaloids in the extract. Results showed that the therapeutic index (IC 50/EC 50) on murine macrophage Raw 264.7 cells and rat mesangial HBZY-1 cells of the extract prepared by sodium carbonate extraction was significantly higher than that of Tripterygium glycosides (0.8 and 5.2 vs. 0.3 and 2.6, p < 0.05), while its cytotoxicity on human liver HL7702 cells was significantly lower (14.5 ± 1.4 vs. 6.8 ± 0.9, p < 0.05). Further acute oral toxicity experiments showed that the LD 50 value of this extract was 1,210 mg/kg compared to 257 mg/kg for Tripterygium glycosides. All the above results suggest that Tripterygium extract prepared by sodium carbonate extraction may represent a potentially optimal source of medicine with good therapeutic index.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11113-11123
Number of pages11
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Active components
  • Sodium carbonate extraction
  • Toxicity
  • Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. F.


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