Frankincense vinegar-processing improves the absorption of boswellic acids by regulating bile acid metabolism

Shitao Peng, Zhiqian Song, Chun Wang, Dongrui Liang, Xiaoying Wan, Zhenli Liu*, Aiping Lu*, Zhangchi Ning*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Boswellic acids in Olibanum (known as frankincense) are potent anti-inflammatory properties in treating ulcerative colitis (UC), but its low bioavailability limited drug development. Evidence accumulated that vinegar processing of frankincense exerts positive effects on improving absorption of compositions. The underlying mechanism is unknown. In recent decades, spectacular growth and multidisciplinary integration of metabolic application were witnessed. The relationship between drug absorption and curative effect has been more or less established. However, it remains a knowledge gap in the field between drug absorption and endocrine metabolism. 

Purpose: To investigate the enhancement mechanism of vinegar processing in the absorption of boswellic acids via the aspect of bile acid metabolism. 

Methods: The effects of raw frankincense (RF) and processed frankincense (PF) were compared by the UC model of rats. The plasma concentration of boswellic acids and the hepatic and colonic bile acids contents were quantified by UPLC-TQ-MS. The levels of mRNA and protein associated with bile acid metabolism were also compared. 

Results: The results showed that PF exhibited re-markable mitigating effects on UC with the elevated plasma level of boswellic acid and upregulated expression of the absorption-related protein multidrug resistance-associated protein 2 (MRP2) and organic anion transporting polypeptide 1B3 (OATP1B3) in the liver and colon. It improved colonic lithocholic acid (LCA), which promoted the expression of bile acid nuclear receptors constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) and pregnane X receptor (PXR), resulting in the upregulation of MRP2 and OATP1B3. 

Conclusion: This paper revealed the mechanisms behind the absorption promotion effects of processing. Bile acids metabolism exhibits potential status in pharmaceutical development. The results shed light on the interdisciplinary collaboration between the metabolism and drug absorption fields.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153931
Early online date11 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine

User-Defined Keywords

  • Bile acid metabolism
  • Boswellic acid
  • Frankincense
  • The absorption improvement
  • Vinegar-processed


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