|My sister, Soo Inn's blueberries|
Compounds in these fruits work alongside vitamin D and specific gene, lab study found.
In an analysis of 446 compounds for their the ability to boost the innate immune system in humans, researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University discovered just two that stood out from the crowd -- the resveratrol found in red grapes and a compound called pterostilbene from blueberries.
Both of these compounds, which are called stilbenoids, promote health because they work in synergy with vitamin D to increase expression of the CAMP gene, known to play a role in the functioning of the body's immune system.
Resveratrol has been the subject of studies for a range of possible benefits, from improving cardiovascular health to fighting cancer and reducing inflammation. This research is the first to show a clear synergy with vitamin D that increased CAMP expression by several times, scientists said.
The CAMP gene itself is also the subject of much study, as it has been shown to play a key role in the "innate" immune system, or the body's first line of defense and ability to combat bacterial infection. The innate immune response is especially important as many antibiotics increasingly lose their effectiveness.
A strong link has been established between adequate vitamin D levels and the function of the CAMP gene, and the new research suggests that certain other compounds may play a role as well.
Stilbenoids are compounds produced by plants to fight infections, and in human biology appear to affect some of the signaling pathways that allow vitamin D to do its job, researchers said. It appears that combining these compounds with vitamin D has considerably more biological impact than any of them would separately.
Because the study was only conducted in a lab setting and not in humans, more research is needed before saying that consuming the compounds from fruits in diet would have immune-boosting effects. But still, the idea that certain foods could potentially improve the immune system is intriguing, researchers said.
The above story is based on the September 17, 2013 news release by Oregon State University.
The study has been published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research:
Guo C, Sinnott B, Niu B, Lowry MB, Fantacone ML, Gombart AF. Synergistic induction of human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide gene expression by vitamin D and stilbenoids. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Sep 14. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201300266
See also our September 1, 2013 report: Whole Fruits Linked to Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
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