This stuff in blueberries could treat inflammatory bowel disease

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Many plants contain bioactive ingredients that can alleviate human diseases.

These phytocompounds often contain restorative biological properties such as anti-cancerous, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Thus, understanding how they interact with the body can lead to potential treatment strategies against major immune disorders.

In a new study, researchers found a compound called pterostilbene (PSB) with strong immunosuppressive properties in blueberries.

The compound is a potential therapeutic option for chronic inflammatory diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The research was conducted by a team at the Tokyo University of Science.

In patients with IBD, the gastrointestinal tract lining contains long-lasting ulcers caused by chronic inflammation due to an elevated immune response in the body.

This involves the excessive production of immune system-related molecules called cytokines.

Moreover, two types of immune cells, dendritic cells (DCs) and T cells, are also involved: At the onset of an immune response, DCs produce inflammatory cytokines and activate T cells to initiate a defense response.

These processes together form a complex pathway that results in an elevated immune response.

Thus, to find an effective compound that can suppress the immune system, it was crucial to test it on this population of immune cells.

In the study, the scientists studied the effects of a range of plant-derived compounds.

Their initial research led them to PSB, which showed stronger immunosuppressive activity than the other candidates.

When they dug deeper, they found that PSB treatment prevents T cells from differentiating into subtypes of T cells that elevate the immune response while increasing their differentiation into regulatory T cells (another subtype known to inhibit inflammation).

They also found that PSB treatment inhibits inflammatory cytokine production.

When they further tested PSB in mice with IBD, they found that oral intake of PSB improved symptoms of IBD.

Thus, the study confirmed that PSB is an extremely promising anti-inflammatory agent to fight IBD. Additionally, it is easily absorbed by the body, making it an ideal drug candidate.

One author of the study is Prof Chiharu Nishiyama.

The study is published in The FASEB Journal.

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