Blueberries, red wine and the "germ-fighting" gene



Increasing the amount of fruit we consume could greatly benefit our immune systems suggests a recent US laboratory study.1

The research, carried out by the Linus Pauling Institute and Oregon State University, suggested that a combination of berries could help produce a "germ-fighting gene" to help boost our immune system.

The laboratory tested hundreds of different compounds for their effect on a gene called 'cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide' (CAMP) which produces a protein to fight infections. Two compounds were found to be highly effective - resveratrol, which is found in red grapes, and pterostilbene, which is found in blueberries.

Although any effect from the two compounds individually was minor, when these two compounds were combined with a particular form of vitamin D, the researchers found a significant increase in protein creation. This suggests that there could be some merit in this theory.

However, it is worth noting that this research was carried out in a laboratory on cell cultures, and not on humans or even animals. It would be premature then to announce either a success or a failure of this theory without further testing, but it does provide more evidence of how important fruit is to our diets.

Reference:

1. Guo C, Sinnott B, Niu B, et al. Synergistic induction of human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide gene expression by vitamin D and stilbenoids. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. Published online September 14 2013