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Effect of cocoa flavanols and their related oligomers on the secretion of interleukin-5 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

Date Published: 
Friday, March 1, 2002

J Med Food 2002, 5 (1), 17-22.

​Mao, T. K.; Van de Water, J.; Keen, C. L.; Schmitz, H. H.

We previously showed that flavanols and their related oligomers (FLO) isolated from cocoa can have immunomodulatory effects on production of the cytokines interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), IL-2, and IL-4. In the present study, we examined whether selected FLO fractions isolated from cocoa (monomer through decamer) modulate IL-5 protein secretion from resting and phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Although FLO fractions were unstimulatory for IL-5 secretion in resting cells, PHA-induced IL-5 release from PBMC was markedly affected by certain FLO fractions. The monomeric and small oligomeric (dimer and trimer) fractions enhanced PHA stimulation by 50%, 54%, and 43%, respectively. In contrast, the larger oligomeric fractions (hexamer through decamer) inhibited IL-5 release in the range of 18% to 39%; the tetramer and pentamer showed intermediate effects. The increment in IL-5 suggests that FLO may preferentially stimulate immunoglobulin A. We suggest that in the oral cavity this could result in reduction in the risk for dental caries and periodontal disease. This work offers additional data for consideration of the health benefits of dietary FLO from a variety of foods, including those benefits associated specifically with consumption of some cocoas and chocolates.