Red grapes and blueberries may boost immunity

M_Id_420881_BlueberriesRed grapes and blueberries may protect the body against illness by boosting the immune system, a new study has claimed. Scientists examined the effects of 446 different chemical compounds on the immune system and identified two which had a significant impact – resveratrol found in red grapes and a compound called pterostilbene from blueberries. Researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University discovered that both of these compounds, which are called stilbenoids, worked in synergy with vitamin D and had a significant impact in raising the expression of the human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide, or CAMP gene, that is involved in immune function. “Out of a study of hundreds of compounds, just these two popped right out,” said Adrian Gombart. “Their synergy with vitamin D to increase CAMP gene expression was significant and intriguing. It’s a pretty interesting interaction,” said Gombart. Resveratrol has been the subject of dozens of studies for a range of possible benefits, from improving cardiovascular health to fighting cancer and reducing inflammation. This research is the first to show a clear synergy with vitamin D that increased CAMP expression by several times, scientists said. The CAMP gene itself is also the subject of much study, as it has been shown to play a key role in the “innate” immune system, or the body’s first line of defence and ability to combat bacterial infection. The innate immune response is especially important as many antibiotics increasingly lose their effectiveness. A strong link has been established between adequate vitamin D levels and the function of the CAMP gene, and the new research suggests that certain other compounds may play a role as well. Stilbenoids are compounds produced by plants to fight infections, and in human biology appear to affect some of the signalling pathways that allow vitamin D to do its job, researchers said.