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Biol Pharm Bull. 2004 Jul;27(7):978-84.

The feeding of beta-carotene down-regulates serum IgE levels and inhibits the type I allergic response in mice.

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  • 1National Institute of Health Sciences, Tokyo, Japan.


Feed containing beta-carotene was administered orally to BALB/c mice immunized intraperitoneally with ovalbumin (OVA) for approximately 1 month. The titers of OVA-specific IgE, OVA-specific IgG1 and OVA-specific IgG2a in the mouse sera were determined. The OVA-specific IgE titer and OVA-specific IgG1 titer by mice fed beta-carotene were significantly inhibited. On the other hand, the OVA-specific IgG2a titer in mice fed beta-carotene was significantly greater than those of control mice. The OVA-specific IgE suppression of beta-carotene feeding was dose-dependent. We also examined the effect of fed beta-carotene on active systemic anaphylaxis. Feeding beta-carotene to mice immunized with OVA inhibited the immediate reduction of the body temperature induced by antigen stimulation. Furthermore, the increase in serum histamine in the mice fed beta-carotene under active systemic anaphylaxis was lower than in controls. We then examined the pattern of cytokine production by spleen cells from mice followed by restimulation with OVA in vitro. The spleen cells from the mice fed beta-carotene produced more IFN-gamma, IL-12 and IL-2 than those from the control group. In contrast, the spleen cells from the mice fed beta-carotene produced less IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10 than those from the control group. Furthermore, analysis of IFN-gamma mRNA levels of the splenocytes using the real-time quantitative RT-PCR technique revealed higher levels in the splenocytes from the mice fed beta-carotene. These findings suggest that feeding beta-carotene improves the helper T cell (T(H))1-T(H)2 balance, inhibiting specific IgE and IgG1 production and antigen-induced anaphylactic response.

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