Planta Med 2011; 77(7): 705-710
DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1250477
Biological and Pharmacological Activity
Original Papers
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Melanogenic Steroidal Saponin Glycosides from Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) Seeds

Tetsuro Kawabata1 , Ming-Yue Cui1 , Tatsuya Hasegawa1 , Fumihide Takano1 , Tomihisa Ohta1
  • 1Pharmacognosy and Chemistry of Natural Products, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan
Further Information

Publication History

received April 6, 2010 revised October 1, 2010

accepted October 4, 2010

Publication Date:
26 October 2010 (eFirst)


Fenugreek seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) is used as an herbal medicine for treating metabolic and nutritive dysfunctions. To determine if this plant has other beneficial effects, we tested the inhibitory activities of a methanol (MeOH) extract of fenugreek seed on the production of inflammatory cytokines and melanin synthesis in cultured cell lines in vitro. The MeOH extract inhibited the production of phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate-induced inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α in cultured THP-1 cells, and also restrained the intracellular synthesis of melanin in murine melanoma B16F1 cells. We isolated three active constituents from fenugreek seed extracts. These were identified as the steroidal saponins 26-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-(25R)-furost-5(6)-en-3β,22β,26-triol-3-O-α-L-rhamno-pyranosyl-(1′′→ 2′)-O-[β-D-glucopyranosyl-(1′′′ → 6′)-O]-β-D-glucopyranoside 1, minutoside B 2, and pseudoprotodioscin 3. Compounds 1 and 2 strongly suppressed the production of inflammatory cytokines, whereas 3 showed a weaker suppressing effect. Melanogenesis in B16F1 cells was significantly suppressed by 1 and 3, and weakly suppressed by 2. All three compounds showed moderate cytotoxicities. These results indicate that fenugreek extract and its active constituents could protect against skin damage.