Inulins and malaria: immunostimulants and ajuvants

Submitted by Lucile Cornet-Vernet and Pierre Lutgen

Host defense functions are responsive to diet composition. It is known since many years that inulin and oligofructose increase resistance to health challenges (K.A Kelly-Quagliana. Nutrition Research, 2003,23, 257–26). Mice fed diets containing inulin had higher natural killer cell activity of splenocytes and greater phagocytic activity of peritoneal macrophages. Apparently inulin does not elicit an increase or redistribution of the examined lymphocyte populations (CD4/CD8), but up-regulates macrophage-dependent (T-helper 1 type) immune responses in a dose-dependent manner.

Inulin-derived adjuvants that principally stimulate the innate immune system through their ability to activate the alternative complement pathway have proven ability to induce both cellular and humoral immunity. With their excellent tolerability, long shelf-life, low cost and easy manufacture, they offer great potential for use in a broad range of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines. Based on successful animal studies in a broad range of species, human trials are about to get underway to validate the use of inulin-based adjuvants in prophylactic vaccines against malaria and other pathogens (E Mata et al., Biomed Research International, March 2013). The Advax adjuvant produced by Vaxine in Australia enhances CD4+ and CD8 T Cell proliferation.

Under certain conditions, inulin-type fructans may improve mineral absorption by their impact on the amelioration of gut health.This has been demonstrated for calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc and iron in animal trials (K Scholz-Ahrens et al., The Journal of Nutrition, 2007) And in another paper (S Swiatkiwiecz et al, Acta Agricultura Scand Section A, 2010, 60, 125-128) in laying hens. Plasma cholesterol was significantly depressed in rats fed 20% inulin in their diet (MA Levrat et al., J Nutr 121 1730-37, 1991)

Inulins are prebiotics and may enhance the effect of probiotics like Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium (M Roller et al., Nutriotional Immunology-Research Communication, 2004, 153-156). The combination of the same pre- and probiotics reduced colon cancer induced by by azoxymethane (AP Femia et al., Carcinogenesis, 23-11, 2002, 1953-60). This was confirmed in a recent review paper (B Pool-Zobel et al., J Nutr 137, 2580-84). The University of Louvain has shown 15 years ago that inulins inhibit breast cancer and tumor growth (H Taber, M Roberfroid, J Nutr, 129,1488-91, 1999). The synergy of inulin conjugated to doxorubicin has improved the cytoxic response in cancer treatment (CA Schoener et al. ; J Drug Del Sci tech 25, 111-118, 2013).

Inulin is a dietetic fiber, a polysaccharide and some Artemisia species may contain up to 9% polysaccharides of their dry weight. Capsules of Chinese origin containing Artemisia annua leaf powder also contain inulin.

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