Immune enhancement activities of silk lutein extract from Bombyx mori cocoons
BACKGROUND: Declining immune function poses an important clinical challenge worldwide and supplementation with natural products that possessing immune enhancing properties is a promising approach for preventing or delaying immune function decline. Cocoons from yellow silkworms are a significant source of lutein, and this unexplored silk extract could be a viable alternative source for dietary lutein. This study assessed immunomodulatory activities of the silk lutein extract. Female BALB/c mice orally received lutein, either as silk or marigold extracts (10 or 20 mg/kg daily), or vehicle only (1% tween 80 in PBS pH 7.4) for 4 weeks. Natural killer (NK) cell activity, specific antibody production, lymphocyte subpopulations, mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation, and cytokine production were examined. RESULTS: Silk lutein extract increased NK cell activity, and the effect was dose-related whereas marigold lutein extract was ineffective. Silk lutein extract dose-dependently enhanced antibody production in pre-immunized mice but marigold lutein extract had no effect. Feeding with silk lutein extract increased the populations of CD3+ and CD4 + CD3 + cells. Silk lutein extract also stimulated concanavalin A- and lipopolysaccharide-induced proliferations of T and B lymphocytes, respectively. Moreover, silk lutein extract increased IL-2 and IFN-γ production while the effect of marigold lutein extract was undetectable. CONCLUSIONS: Together, silk lutein extract enhanced both innate and adaptive immune functions. This preparation may prove to be an effective supplement for strengthened immunity.