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Red grapes, blueberries may enhance immune functionIn an analysis of 446 compounds for their 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, worked in synergy with vitamin D and had a significant impact in raising the expression of the human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide, or CAMP gene, that is involved in immune function.
Resveratrol has been the subject of dozens 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 say.
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 defence 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.
Continued research could lead to a better understanding of how diet and nutrition affect immune function, and possibly lead to the development of therapeutically useful natural compounds that could boost the innate immune response, the researchers say in their report. Despite the interest in compounds such as resveratrol and pterostilbene, their bioavailability remains a question, the researchers note.
Publication date: 12/9/2013
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