Exploring the Immune-Boosting Effects of Cyrtocarpa Edulis Fruit on Fish

Jim Crocker
30th January, 2024

Exploring the Immune-Boosting Effects of Cyrtocarpa Edulis Fruit on Fish

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Dive into the fruitful world of Cyrtocarpa edulis, a tree not many are familiar with, but it just might be carrying a basketful of benefits, particularly for our finned friends in the sea. Researchers have recently turned their attention to this plant, specifically its fruit, to understand what it's made of and how it might bolster the immune systems of fish. This is not a minor feat, considering how disease outbreaks in aquaculture can ripple through the industry, affecting both the economy and our dinner tables. Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of the discovery, let's unpack what researchers from the Immunology & Vaccinology Group at the Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste in Mexico have done. They started by peeking into the chemical closet of Cyrtocarpa edulis fruit, using a technique that's fairly similar to a supermarket scanner—except this one, called gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), can list every chemical compound present in the fruit. Their analysis was akin to revealing the ingredients on a food’s nutritional label, and what they found was quite impressive: a bounty of carbohydrates and compounds similar to cholesterol but plant-based, known as phytosterols, with β-sitosterol taking the lead. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The team was also curious about the antioxidant properties of the fruit—antioxidants being those tiny protective friends we hear about that fend off damage from our cells. Again, the fruit didn't disappoint. It was rich in total phenols, flavonoids, and tannins—mighty molecules that provide the antioxidant firepower to combat some unruly particles called hydroxyl and superoxide radicals. Now, for the real catch—do these nutrients from Cyrtocarpa edulis impart superpowers to fish? To find out, the researchers conducted a trio of tests: in vitro (in the lab), in vivo (in the actual fish), and ex vivo (using living tissue outside the fish). For in vitro, they added the fruit extract to fish immune cells and waited to see the magic unfold. Sure enough, after a day, the immune cells were more robust and ready to defend against invaders. But a well-prepared army is better tested in the field, so the team moved on to in vivo studies. They fed the fruit to Almaco jack fish and observed how their immune systems responded. The fish's skin mucus, sort of their first line of defense, was more potent with greater activity of myeloperoxidase along with increased nitric oxide production. Think of these as strengthening the shield and sharpening the weapons of these underwater warriors. Even more impressive, inside their intestines, some immune-system-calling genes were dialed up, rallying the internal troops to be more alert and responsive after just four weeks. The research team didn't stop there. They also conducted ex vivo experiments, which showed that when fish cells from the immune system were taken out and introduced to the fruit's effects, these cells got better at gobbling up harmful bacteria and unleashing their own defensive tactics. So, what’s the verdict? The Cyrtocarpa edulis fruit is like an immune system cheerleader for fish, encouraging their bodies to ramp up their defenses. Using it as an additive in fish feed could be akin to slipping a bit of extra vitamin C into a smoothie—except in this case, it's for fish and the benefits are amped up significantly. Not only is this good news for the aquaculture industry, but it’s also promising for our understanding of the potential that plant-based compounds can have in promoting animal health. This fruit especially, with its rich diversity of chemical compounds, could provide a natural and sustainable option for managing fish health. In essence, Cyrtocarpa edulis, with its natural cornucopia of chemical compounds, might soon be recognized as more than just a tree bearing fruit. It could become an integral part of a marine diet, turning the tide in the battle between fish and the diseases that often ravage them. And who knows? Perhaps in the future, the wisdom gleaned from these fruits might find its way into your home aquarium or even inspire similar strategies in human nutrition. Science has, yet again, shown us that sometimes the best cures come wrapped in nature's own packaging.

FruitsMedicineAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Cyrtocarpa edulis fruit and its immunostimulant effect on Almaco Jack Seriola rivoliana: in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo studies.

Published 29th January, 2024


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