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.


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