The sap of the tree Lepiniopsis ternatensis is used as a topical treatment for cutaneous leg ulcers in Papua New Guinea. This study, which is the first investigation of this medicinal plant, examines the effect of the sap on wound healing biology using human-derived primary cell lines. NMR spectra from 1D and 2D experiments revealed the sap to contain a single major component, identified as the polyphenol, trifucol. The sap significantly increased the proliferation of dermal fibroblasts at just 1.3 μg/ml, without influencing keratinocytes, suggesting a fibroblast-specific mechanism of stimulation. It also significantly inhibited TNF-α secretion by pro-inflammatory M1 macrophages, but not from neutrophils, at 130 μg/ml. The low toxicity of the sap towards dermal cells along with its fibroblast stimulation activity and downregulation of macrophage TNF-α makes it a potentially attractive agent to promote dermal wound healing in chronic non-healing ulcers.
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