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Am J Reprod Immunol. 2013 Dec;70(6):538-50. doi: 10.1111/aji.12172. Epub 2013 Nov 5.

Dietary supplementation of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, Dunal) enhances NK cell function in ovarian tumors in the laying hen model of spontaneous ovarian cancer.

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Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA.



Ovarian cancer (OVCA) disseminates in a distinct pattern through peritoneal metastasis and little is known about the immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment. Our goal was to determine changes in NK cell population during OVCA development and the effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, Dunal) supplementation on NK cell localization in laying hens with OVCA.


Frequency of NK cells in ovarian tumors at early and late stages in 3- to 4-year-old hens (exploratory study) as well as in hens supplemented with dietary Ashwagandha root powder for 90 days (prospective study) was examined.


The population of stromal NK cells but not the intratumoral NK cells increased with OVCA development and progression. Ashwagandha supplementation decreased the incidence and progression of OVCA. Both the stromal and intratumoral NK cell population increased significantly (P < 0.0001) in Ashwagandha supplementated hens.


The results of this study suggest that the population of stromal and tumorinfiltrating NK cells is increased by dietary Ashwagandha supplementation. Thus, Ashwagandha may enhance antitumor function of NK cells. This study may be useful for a clinical study to determine the effects of dietary Ashwagandha on NK cell immune function in patients with ovarian cancer.


Dietary supplement; NK cells; immune response; prevention; spontaneous animal model

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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