Ahead of the Curve: Immune Health

Good results in the lab can lead to larger human trials. Here are some of the most promising recent findings from lab work concerning immune health, our deep dive topic for the first quarter of 2022.

Vitamin B6 in Covid-19

Vitamin B6 has links to immunity, with low levels typical in chronic inflammatory conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, making people more susceptible to Covid-19.

Covid-19 mainly enters the body by binding to lung and respiratory-tract cell receptors, which can cause a hyper-inflammatory “cytokine storm,” and blood clots.

In the lab, deficiency in vitamin B6 raised chances for pneumonia and viral infections. Supplementing with B6 increased immune antibody production, reduced reactive oxygen species, and had anti-clotting properties, all of which can decrease the severity of Covid-19.

Reference: Frontiers in Nutrition; 2020, 562051, Published Online

Melatonin helped treat Covid-19

Doctors used artificial intelligence to determine functional similarities between a number of diseases and Covid-19, then identified 34 drugs that could be repurposed as treatments for the virus.

To test further for this potential, doctors analyzed data from patients at the Cleveland Clinic, and found that melatonin was likely to be the most effective. Among all people tested for the virus, those who took melatonin were 28 percent less likely to test positive. Among African Americans, the figure jumped to 52 percent.

Reference: Public Library of Science—Biology; July, 2020, PMC7350981

Taurine triggers gut memory

Taurine helps the body digest fats and occurs naturally in the gut. Doctors know that gut microbiota—microorganisms that are part of the immune system—can protect against infection, but until now, did not know how. In the lab, mice fed taurine resisted infection when exposed to a pneumonia-like antibiotic-resistant bacterium. Doctors transferred these microbiota to germ-free mice, who were then able to resist the pneumonia-like infection. Doctors were able to identify an infection-fighting bacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, triggered by taurine.

Reference 3: Cell; 2021, Vol. 184, No. 3, 615-27

Probiotic may treat Celiac disease

People with Celiac disease (CD), who can’t metabolize gluten, are low in the bifidobacteria strains of probiotics. Even on a gluten-free diet, those with CD may not be able to rebalance the gut microbiome on their own. In the lab, doctors extracted gluten proteins from wheat flour and exposed them to four strains of bifidobacteria: bifidum, longum, bembidion breve, and animalis; separately and together. The longum strain most effectively broke down the gluten, reducing the toxic gut response (cytotoxic) and inflammation.

Reference: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry; 2020, Vol. 68, No. 15, 4485-92

Elderberry anthocyanins have antiviral effects

Doctors know that elderberry fights flu, but until now, didn’t know how it works. In the lab, doctors applied elderberry to cells before, during, and after infection with the influenza virus. Anthocyanins in elderberry, doctors believe, stopped the virus from infecting the cells, and were even more effective at slowing the spread of the virus once cells had already been infected. “Elderberry inhibited the early stages of infection by blocking key viral proteins that attach to and enter host cells,” doctors said. And elderberry stimulated cytokines, chemical messengers that help coordinate the immune response to pathogens.

Reference: Journal of Functional Foods; 2019, Vol. 54, 353-60

Whole oats have prebiotic effects

Many studies isolate grain fiber, such as oat beta glucan, for their prebiotic properties, but oats also contain polyphenols. In the lab, doctors separated equal weights of oat beta glucan and oat polyphenols and compared their prebiotic effects to whole oats. Whole oats increased gut levels of bifidobacterium adolescentis (BA), while the isolated beta glucan and polyphenols did not. BA can synthesize and secrete gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which earlier studies have linked to disease prevention.

Reference 3: British Journal of Nutrition; 2019, Vol. 121, No. 5, 549-59

^This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before trying a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition, including being pregnant or nursing, take prescription or over-the-counter medications, or are planning on having surgery.

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Article copyright 2022 by Natural Insights for WellBeing. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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