Induction of inflammatory cytokines by cartilage extracts

Liza Merly, Shabana Simjee, Sylvia L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Shark cartilage extracts were examined for induction of cytokines and chemokines in human peripheral blood leukocytes. Primary leukocyte cultures were exposed to a variety of aqueous and organic extracts prepared from several commercial brands of shark cartilage. From all commercial sources of shark cartilage tested the acid extracts induced higher levels of TNFα than other extracts. Different commercial brands of shark cartilage varied significantly in cytokine-inducing activity. TNFα induction was seen as early as 4 h and IFNγ at detectable levels for up to four days. Shark cartilage extracts did not induce physiologically significant levels of IL-4. Results suggest that shark cartilage, preferentially, induces Th1 type inflammatory cytokines. When compared to bovine cartilage extract, collagen, and chondroitin sulfate, shark cartilage induced significantly higher levels of TNFα. Treatment with digestive proteases (trypsin and chymotrypsin) reduced the cytokine induction response by 80%, suggesting that the active component(s) in cartilage extracts is proteinaceous. The induction of Th1 type cytokine response in leukocytes is a significant finding since shark cartilage, taken as a dietary supplement for a variety of chronic degenerative diseases, would be contraindicated in cases where the underlying pathology of the chronic condition is caused by inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-391
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Immunopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • CAM
  • Cytokine
  • Immunomodulation
  • Natural product
  • Shark cartilage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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