The research, led by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University, suggests the wolfberry may increase the activity of dendritic cells, which play an important role in the ability of the immune system to defend against viral infections. The results were published online ahead of print today by the Journal of Nutrition.
Older mice, with immune systems weakened by age, were placed on diets that included a small amount of a milk preparation of wolfberry fruit, also known as goji berries. Over a period of several weeks, they received two flu vaccines before being infected with the flu virus and monitored for signs of symptoms. The researchers then tested for specific influenza antibodies as well as the clinical symptoms of the disease such as weight loss among the mice.
"We observed higher antibody response and better protection against flu as indicated by less weight loss in the older mice that consumed wolfberries," said senior author Simin Nikbin Meydani, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the USDA HNRCA at Tufts University and director of the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA. "While previous studies have shown that wolfberries bolster immune response in mice, our results introduce their potential to reduce the age-related risk and severity of the flu virus in the presence of the vaccine."
Meydani and colleagues isolated dendritic cells, which are known to activate infection-fighting T-cells. The cells were treated with a wolfberry concentrate and incubated for one week. During that time, the researchers observed that the maturity and inflammatory activity of the dendritic cells had increased, which suggests an improved immune response.
"Although we have taken a step toward understanding the mechanism behind the wolfberry's interaction with the flu vaccine, it remains unclear which components of wolfberries may be responsible for the effects observed in this study," said co-corresponding author Dayong Wu, M.D., Ph.D., a senior scientist in the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory and an associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
"Wolfberries are rich in complex carbohydrates known as polysaccharides, as well as vitamins, carotenoids and flavonoids. Future studies in rodent models would be necessary to understand which components appear to be stimulating the dendritic cells."
Further research is also needed to determine whether wolfberries could have a similar effect in older humans who receive the flu vaccine. "People's immune systems inevitably weaken with age, making them less responsive to the vaccine and more susceptible to the flu and its potentially serious complications," said Meydani, who is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and a member of the immunology program faculty at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, both at Tufts University.
"While flu vaccination is recommended for older people, the vaccine is only 40% effective in protecting older adults against flu infection, which is much lower than that afforded to younger people. For those reasons, it is important to investigate complimentary approaches that may enhance the effectiveness of vaccination."
This research was funded under an agreement with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, contract #58-1950-0-014.
The milk preparation of wolfberry fruit was provided by Nestec S.A. Although Drs. Meydani and Wu have received funding from Nestec S.A., it was not used to support this research.
Additional authors of this study are Donald E. Smith, Ph.D., scientist and manager in the Comparative Biology Unit at the USDA HNRCA and Xiogang Du, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral associate; Junpeng Wang, D.V.M., Ph.D., a scientist; Xinli Niu, M.S., a former research assistant, all in the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA.
Du, X; Wang, J; Niu, X; Smith, D; Wu, D; and Meydani, SN. "Dietary wolfberry supplementation enhances protective effect of flu vaccine against influenza challenge in aged mice." Journal of Nutrition. doi:
The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the only independent school of nutrition in the United States. The school's eight degree programs, which focus on questions relating to famine, hunger, poverty, and communications, are renowned for the application of scientific research to national and international policy. For three decades, the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has studied the relationship between good nutrition and good health in aging populations. Tufts research scientists work with federal agencies to establish the USDA Dietary Guidelines, the Dietary Reference Intakes, and other significant public policies.
Andrea Grossman | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Agricultural Research > Antidepressants > Biomedical Science > HNRCA > Human vaccine > Immunology > Immunology Laboratory > Nutrition > Nutritional quality > aging population > brain aging > dendritic cells > flu vaccine > flu virus > immune response > immune system > viral infection > weight loss
NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.
Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
08.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences
16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.03.2018 | Life Sciences