Helenalin

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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Definition
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Helenalin is a natural sesquiterpene lactone with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties found in arnica species (Arnica chamissonis, Arnica montana) and other asteraceae (Giant nasturtium, elecampane).
Helenalin selectively inhibits the transcription factor NF-κB. In vitro, helenin is an inhibitor of telomerase gene expression; furthermore, the substance shows anti-trypanosomal and antimicrobial activity. Experimentally, the substance inhibits melanin production in melanocytes.
Helenalin is highly toxic and has a considerable allergenic potency. Helenalin is the actual cause of arnica sensitization (see below arnica).

Literature
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  1. Hausen BM et al (1978) The sensitizing capacity of Compositae plants. I. Occupational contact dermatitis from Arnica longifolia Eaton. Contact dermatitis 4:3-10.
  2. Jimenez V et al (2014) Natural sesquiterpene lactones induce programmed cell death in Trypanosoma cruzi: a new therapeutic target? Phytomedicine 21:1411-1418.
  3. Kordi S et al (2016) A comparison of the inhibitory effect of nano-encapsulated helenalin and free helenalin on telomerase gene expression in the breast cancer cell line, by real-time PCR. Artif Cells Nanomed Biotechnol 44:695-703.
  4. Merfort I (2011)Perspectives on sesquiterpene lactones in inflammation and cancer. Curr drug targets 12:1560-1573.
  5. Song FN et al (2014) RANKL promotes migration and invasion of hepatocellular carcinoma cells via NF-κB-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition. PLoS One 9:e108507.
  6. Usui K et al(2015) Identification of HSP70-inducing activity in Arnica montana extract and purification and characterization of HSP70-inducers. J Dermatol Sci 78:67-75.
  7. Zhang Z et al(2014) The inhibitory effect of helenalin on telomerase activity is attributed to the alkylation of the CYS445 residue: evidence from QM/MM simulations. J Mol Graph Model 51:97-103.