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J Oral Pathol Med. 2015 Mar;44(3):214-21. doi: 10.1111/jop.12223. Epub 2014 Jul 22.

Ellagic acid modulates the expression of oral innate immune mediators: potential role in mucosal protection.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Songkhla, Thailand.



Ellagic acid (EA) found in various fruits such as pomegranates, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and walnuts has different pharmacological functions including antioxidant, antitumor, antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral activities. It is not known, however, if EA could enhance mucosal innate immunity. Our goal was to determine the effects of EA on the expression of innate immune mediators produced by oral epithelial cells.


Culture of primary human gingival epithelial cells (HGEs) was performed in duplicate, and after the primary HGEs had been treated with EA at a concentration ranging from 12.5 to 100 μM for 18 h the cells and supernatants were harvested. The expression of innate immune mediators including human β-defensin 2 (hBD2), secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), and various cytokines and chemokines was measured at both transcriptional and translational levels by using quantitative real-time PCR, ELISA, and Luminex assay.


In the presence of EA, the expression of hBD2-and SLPI mRNA was 3.7-folds and 2.6-folds greater than untreated controls, respectively, and consistent with their secreted protein levels. For cytokines and chemokines, increased expression of RANTES, IL-2, and IL-1β was found in response to EA. In contrast, EA decreased the expression of IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-α.


This study demonstrated that oral innate immunity is affected by EA found in fruits. Thus, it may play some roles in mucosal innate immunity. The potential of EA for modulating the innate immune mediators may lead to developing a new topical agent to treat and/or prevent immune-mediated oral diseases.


cytokines; ellagic acid; hBD2; innate immunity; oral epithelial cells; secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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