How Burdock Root Fibers Affect Immune Responses via Gut Bacteria and Metabolism

Greg Howard
2nd May, 2024

How Burdock Root Fibers Affect Immune Responses via Gut Bacteria and Metabolism

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Shandong Agricultural University found that ALP-1, a burdock root polysaccharide, boosts immune health in mice
  • ALP-1 intake increased protective mucus production and antibody levels, enhancing the body's defense mechanisms
  • The study also showed ALP-1 improves antioxidant activity and positively alters gut bacteria, which may help against inflammation
Polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrate consisting of long chains of sugar molecules, are gaining recognition for their potential health benefits. Recent research from Shandong Agricultural University has delved into the immunoregulatory effects of a specific polysaccharide derived from the root of the burdock plant, known as Arctium lappa L.[1]. This study could have significant implications for understanding how natural compounds can support immune health. Burdock root has been consumed for centuries in various cultures for its medicinal properties. The study at hand focuses on ALP-1, the main polysaccharide found in burdock. ALP-1 is primarily composed of fructose and glucose, with a relatively low molecular weight of 2757 Da. Its structure is characterized by a (1 → 2)-linked linear fructan, which is a specific type of polysaccharide made up of fructose units. The researchers investigated how oral intake of ALP-1 affects immune function in healthy mice. They found that ALP-1 intake led to an increase in the number of colonic goblet cells, which are responsible for producing mucus to protect the lining of the intestine. Additionally, there was an increase in the levels of serum immunoglobulin A and G, as well as fecal secretory immunoglobulin A. Immunoglobulins are antibodies that play a crucial role in the immune response by identifying and neutralizing foreign objects like bacteria and viruses. Moreover, the study revealed that ALP-1 enhanced the body's antioxidant defense system by up-regulating antioxidant enzymes. Antioxidants are molecules that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, which are unstable atoms that can cause illness and aging. The polysaccharide also increased the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are produced by the gut microbiota and are vital for colon health and immune modulation. The administration of ALP-1 also appeared to regulate levels of certain cytokines, which are signaling molecules that aid cell to cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection, and trauma. The balance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines was positively affected, suggesting potential benefits against inflammatory conditions. Furthermore, the study noted changes in the intestinal microbiota structure and key gut-microbiota-mediated metabolic processes. This is consistent with earlier research indicating that polysaccharides can influence the gut microbiota composition, such as the study on Dendrobium officinale polysaccharides (DOP) which showed that DOP could benefit the intestinal microbiota and the immune system[2]. Previous studies have also highlighted the importance of polysaccharides in health. For instance, research on garlic polysaccharides pointed out their potential bioactivities and the need for more detailed understanding of their structure-function relationships[3]. Similarly, the investigation of different polysaccharide fractions from Arctium lappa L. revealed their antioxidant activities and suggested their potential as functional food components[4]. This new research builds on these findings by demonstrating the immunomodulatory effects of ALP-1 and providing insight into the mechanisms behind these effects. In summary, the study from Shandong Agricultural University has shown that ALP-1, a polysaccharide from burdock root, can have a positive impact on immune health by increasing the production of antibodies, enhancing the body's antioxidant capacity, modulating the balance of cytokines, and altering the gut microbiota and its metabolic processes. These findings contribute to the growing body of evidence that natural polysaccharides can be beneficial for health and may lead to new dietary recommendations or supplements designed to support the immune system.



Main Study

1) Integrated Mechanism of Immune Response Modulation byArctium Lappa L. Fructans Based on Microbiome and Metabolomics Technologies.

Published 1st May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Dendrobium officinale Xianhu 2 polysaccharide helps forming a healthy gut microbiota and improving host immune system: An in vitro and in vivo study.

3) Bioactive polysaccharides and oligosaccharides from garlic (Allium sativum L.): Production, physicochemical and biological properties, and structure-function relationships.

4) Structural characterization and antioxidant activities of one neutral polysaccharide and three acid polysaccharides from the roots of Arctium lappa L.: A comparison.

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