University of Colorado School of Medicine

Research uncovers mechanism underpinning ginger’s effect on immune function

New research has found that whole-ginger extracts can make neutrophils – a type of white blood cell – more resistant to neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation. NET formation, also known as NETosis, is heavily involved in the biological processes that propel inflammation and clotting.

These findings were published in the journal JCI Insight. They suggest that ginger supplementation could have a positive effect in treating autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis that are affected by NET formation.

“There are a lot of diseases where neutrophils are abnormally overactive,” said Kristen Demoruelle, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and a senior co-author of the new study. “We found that ginger can help to restrain NETosis, and this is important because it is a natural supplement that may be helpful to treat inflammation and symptoms for people with several different autoimmune diseases.”

In a pilot clinical trial, the researchers administered a ginger supplement to two study cohorts at a dose of 100 mg of whole-ginger extract per day. This was determined to be equivalent to approximately 20 mg of gingerols – the major pungent molecules present in ginger – per day.

They found that this supplementation appeared to raise the levels of a chemical inside the neutrophil, called cAMP. In the same study, increased cAMP levels were also shown to inhibit NETosis by human neutrophils in vitro, in response to various disease-relevant stimuli.


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