Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Melanin: Dietary Mucosal Immune Modulator from Echinacea and Other Botanical Supplements

Authors
item Pugh, Nirmal - UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI
item Balachandran, Premalatha - UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI
item Lata, Hemant - UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI
item Dayan, Franck
item Joshi, Vaishali - UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI
item Bedir, Erdal - UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI
item Makino, Toshiaki - UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI
item Moraes, Rita - UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI
item Khan, Ikhlas - UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI
item Pasco, David - UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI

Submitted to: Journal of Biological Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 22, 2004
Publication Date: May 3, 2005
Citation: Pugh, N.D., Balachandran, P., Lata, H., Dayan, F.E., Joshi, V., Bedir, E., Makino, T., Moraes, R., Khan, I., Pasco, D.S. 2005. Melanin: dietary mucosal immune modulator from echinacea and other botanical supplements. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 5:637-647.

Interpretive Summary: Certain botanical supplements known to stimulate immune response but little is known about the factors responsible for this effect. This paper shows that melanin is a previously unrecognized immunostimulatory compound that is a major component of botanicals traditionally used to enhance immune function. The melanin of commonly consumed vegetables is much less active than that of the botanical supplements tested. The major reason that this agent has eluded detection is its solvent-specific requirement for extraction/solubility. The identification of this new class of mucosal immune stimulants will allow a more comprehensive characterization of botanical products and advances our understanding of the basis for their traditional use.

Technical Abstract: The agents responsible for the therapeutic effects of many botanical supplements have not been established in spite of their popularity. Here we show that melanin is a previously unrecognized immunostimulatory compound that is a major component of botanicals traditionally used to enhance immune function. While melanin is present in commonly consumed vegetables, its specific activity is several orders of magnitude less than the melanin extracted from these botanicals. The major reason that this agent has eluded detection is its solvent-specific requirement for extraction/solubility. Melanin activates monocytes in vitro through a toll like receptor 2-dependent process. Short term ingestion of melanin by mice increases the production ex vivo of interferon-g by spleen cells and IgA and interleukin-6 by Peyer's patch cells. The identification of this new class of mucosal immune stimulants will allow a more comprehensive characterization of botanical products and advances our understanding of the basis for their traditional use.

Last Modified: 11/22/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page