Study Title:

Oregano Oil and Autoimmune Arthritis

Study Abstract

OBJECTIVE:: Stress proteins, such as members of the heat shock protein (HSP) families, are up-regulated by cells in the inflamed tissues and can be viewed functionally as 'biomarkers' for the immune system to monitor inflammation. Exogenous administration of stress proteins has produced immune regulation in various inflammatory models and was also shown to be effective in clinical trials in humans. Here we hypothesized that boosting of endogenous HSP expression can restore effective immune regulation through T cells specific for stress proteins.

METHODS:: Stress protein expression was manipulated in vivo and in vitro with a food component, and immune recognition of stress proteins was studied. RESULTS:: We report that carvacrol, a major compound in oil of many Origanum species, had an unprecedented capacity to co-induce cellular HSP70 expression in vitro and, upon intragastric administration, in Peyer's patches of mice in vivo. As a consequence, carvacrol specifically promoted T cell recognition of endogenous HSP70 as shown in vitro by the activation of an HSP70-specific T cell hybridoma and amplified T cell responses to HSP70 in vivo. Carvacrol administration also increased the number of CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) T cells, systemically in the spleen and locally in the joint, and almost completely suppressed proteoglycan-induced experimental arthritis. Furthermore, protection against arthritis could be transferred with T cells isolated from carvacrol-fed mice.

CONCLUSION:: These findings illustrate that a food component can boost protective T cell responses to a self-stress protein and down-regulate inflammatory disease; the immune system responds to one's diet.

Study Information

Wieten L, van der Zee R, Spiering R, Wagenaar-Hilbers J, van Kooten P, Broere F, van Eden W.
A novel HSP co-inducer boosts stress protein HSP70 to activate T cell regulation of inflammation in autoimmune arthritis
Arthritis Rheum.
2010 January
Institute of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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