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Older mice fed wolfberries show reduced risk for flu virus with vaccine
Date:12/11/2013

BOSTON (December 11, 2013) In a study of older mice, wolfberries appear to interact with the influenza vaccine to offer additional protection against the flu virus. The research, led by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University, suggests the wolfberry may increase the activity of dendritic cells, which play an important role in the ability of the immune system to defend against viral infections. The results were published online ahead of print today by the Journal of Nutrition.

Older mice, with immune systems weakened by age, were placed on diets that included a small amount of a milk preparation of wolfberry fruit, also known as goji berries. Over a period of several weeks, they received two flu vaccines before being infected with the flu virus and monitored for signs of symptoms. The researchers then tested for specific influenza antibodies as well as the clinical symptoms of the disease such as weight loss among the mice.

"We observed higher antibody response and better protection against flu as indicated by less weight loss in the older mice that consumed wolfberries," said senior author Simin Nikbin Meydani, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the USDA HNRCA at Tufts University and director of the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA. "While previous studies have shown that wolfberries bolster immune response in mice, our results introduce their potential to reduce the age-related risk and severity of the flu virus in the presence of the vaccine."

Meydani and colleagues isolated dendritic cells, which are known to activate infection-fighting T-cells. The cells were treated with a wolfberry concentrate and incubated for one week. During that time, the researchers observed that the maturity and inflammatory activity of the dendritic cells had increased, which suggests an improved immune response.

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Contact: Andrea Grossman
617-636-3728
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus
Source:Eurekalert

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