Healthy Living

Compounds In Red Grapes, Blueberries May Help Strengthen Your Immune System

blueberries
The chemical compounds resveratrol and pterostilbene, which are found in red grapes and blueberries respectively, may be able to boost immune system strength. Rsseattle, CC BY-SA 2.0

Everyone has heard by now about the benefits of drinking red wine. The compound resveratrol is responsible for such benefits, which include preventing hearing loss, reducing cholesterol, and lowering the risk for cancer. But you don’t need to drink wine to get these benefits, since resveratrol is also found in red grapes. Now a new study has found that resveratrol in grapes, and another compound, pterostilbene, which is found in blueberries, can possibly boost immune strength.

Resveratrol and pterostilbene are known as stilbenoids. In plants, they are responsible for fighting fungal pathogens. But now researchers have found that they may also have benefits for the human immune system, specifically when working in conjunction with vitamin D to raise expression of the CAMP gene (cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide), which is involved in antimicrobial activities and inflammatory response regulations.

“Out of a study of hundreds of compounds, just these two popped right out,” Adrian Gombart, lead author of the study and associate professor at Oregon State University College of Science, said in a statement. “Their synergy with vitamin D to increase CAMP gene expression was significant and intriguing. It’s a pretty interesting interaction.”  

The innate immune system, also known as the body’s first line of defense, is largely dependent on expression of the CAMP gene, the researchers said. The way that vitamin D interacts with resveratrol and pterostilbene to strengthen CAMP expression could help solve a growing problem with antibiotics losing their effectiveness.

The researchers singled out resveratrol and pterostilbene after analyzing 446 compounds in red grapes and blueberries. They stressed that their analysis took place in laboratory cell cultures, and that the study did not prove that eating more grapes or blueberries would be just as beneficial. They said that this adds more interest in the potential of some foods, in addition to offering the possibility of grapes or blueberries being used in the future as a topical aid to improve barrier defense in wounds or infections.

Although it may not be able to isolate and use resveratrol and pterstilbene for their immune boosting properties just yet, red wine has been shown to have its many benefits. Blueberries also have many benefits including improving heart and brain health, and reducing the risk for cancer. If you don’t like eating blueberries, and don’t mind getting a little creative, they can also be used in facial cleansing recipes.  

 

Source: Guo C, Sinnott B, Gombart A, et al. Synergistic induction of human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide gene expression by vitamin D and stilbenoids. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 2013. 

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