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Ginkgo biflavone shows promise as an anti-arthritic agent

Flavonoids are chemical compounds widely distributed throughout the plant world. They have been shown to have a variety of anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities. A class of flavonoid derivatives called biflavonoids also shows important anti-inflammatory properties, including the inhibition of a type of phospholipase involved in the inflammatory response. A biflavonoid compound from ginkgo called ginkgetin has also been shown to inhibit the release of arachidonic acid and some of its metabolites. In combination, these data suggest that ginkgetin is a powerful anti-inflammatory substance. To test this hypothesis, arthritis was induced in rats in the laboratory, then treated with ginkgetin or prednisolone, a synthetic drug. Significant reduction in inflammation was achieved with ginkgetin injections, but not with oral administration. Comparison of body and organ weights of rats treated with ginkgetin or prednisolone revealed that while prednisolone decreased spleen and thymus weights, ginkgetin did not. The researchers theorize that the mechanism of ginkgetin's anti-arthritic activity is different than that of prednisolone. A subsequent test also demonstrated that ginkgetin has analgesic activity.

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Kim H, Son K, Chang H, et al. Inhibition of rat adjuvant-induced arthritis by ginkgetin, a biflavone from Ginkgo biloba leaves. Planta Med 1999; 65: 465-467.

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