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Br J Nutr. 2005 Jun;93(6):859-66.

Effect of Theobroma cacao flavonoids on immune activation of a lymphoid cell line.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Barcelona, Av. Joan XXIII s/n, 08 028 Barcelona, Spain.


We analysed the effect of (-)-epicatechin and cocoa extract on the activation of a lymphoid cell line. Particularly the expression of IL-2 receptor alpha (IL-2Ralpha or CD25) and, the secretion of IL-2 and IL-4 were established after flavonoid treatment. Two media culture conditions (1 and 10 % of fetal calf serum supplementation) and the different moments of flavonoid addition (simultaneously or 2 h before cell-activation) were compared. IL-2Ralpha (CD25) expression on activated cells was significantly reduced by epicatechin and cocoa extract in a dose-dependent manner, achieving the highest inhibition of about 50 % when flavonoids were added 2 h before stimulation. IL-2 secretion was also inhibited by the presence of both epicatechin and cocoa extract, displaying 60 and 75 % of inhibition, respectively. Cocoa flavonoids were also able to enhance 3-4.5-fold IL-4 release. In summary, cocoa extract down-modulated T lymphocyte activation and therefore the acquired immune response. This fact could be important in some states of the immune system hyperactivity such as autoimmune or chronic inflammatory diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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