This review focuses on traditional and contemporary anti-inflammatory uses of mollusc-derived products summarising all the in vitro, in vivo and human clinical trials that have tested the anti-inflammatory activity of molluscan natural products. Inflammatory conditions, burns and wounds have been an ongoing concern for human health since the early era of civilisation. Many texts from ancient medicine have recorded the symptoms, signs and treatments for these conditions. Natural treatments are well-documented in traditional European medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Siddha and ancient Mediterranean and African traditional medicine and include a surprisingly large number of molluscan species.
Methods: An extensive review of the Materia Medica and scientific literature was undertaken using key word searches for "mollusc" and "anti-inflammatory" or "immunomodulatory" or "wound healing".
Results: Molluscs have been used in ethnomedicine by many traditional cultures to treat different aspects of inflammatory conditions. We found 104 different anti-inflammatory preparations from a variety of molluscan species, of which 70 were from the well-documented Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This traditional use of molluscs has driven the testing for inflammatory activity in extracts from some species in the phylum Mollusca, with 20 in vitro studies, 40 in vivo animal studies and 14 human clinical trials performed to substantiate the anti-inflammatory and wound healing activity of molluscs. Some of these studies have led to the approval of mollusc-derived products to be used as over-the-counter (OTC) nutraceuticals, like Lyprinol® and Biolane™ from the New Zealand green lipped mussel Perna canaliculus.
Conclusion: Natural products provide important leads for the development of pharmaceuticals, including anti-inflammatory agents. Only a small proportion of the molluscan traditional medicines have been tested to confirm their anti-inflammatory activity and most screening studies have tested crude extracts from molluscs without any chemical characterisation. This highlights the need for further research to strategically identify the anti-inflammatory compounds in molluscan medicines to provide leads for novel anti-inflammatory drugs in the future.
Ahmad, TB, Liu, L, Kotiw, M & Benkendorff, K 2017, 'Review of anti-inflammatory, immune-modulatory and wound healing properties of molluscs', Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 210, pp. 156-178.
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