Pedersen, Susanne Brix1; Magyar, O.H.3; Barkholt, Vibeke1; Frøkiær, Hanne1
1 Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark2 Enzyme and Protein Chemistry, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark3 unknown
The impact of dietary components on the immune system is gaining increased attention in the effort to develop safe food products, some even with health-promoting potential, as well as to improve the basic understanding of the immunomodulatory potential of common food components. In such studies, which are mainly based on experiments in vitro, it is important to be able to differentiate nonspecific activation of immune cells induced by dietary components from ex vivo restimulation of antigen-specific cells that might be present in cell cultures owing to prior dietary exposure to the antigens in cell donors. Focusing on the immunostimulatory potential of cows' milk proteins and peptides, we studied the impact of prior dietary exposure to cows' milk on proliferation of murine immune cells upon ex vivo stimulation with bovine milk proteins. Nonspecific proliferation induced by beta-casein peptides was further assessed on cells from mice bred on a cows'-milk-free diet. Regarding the dietary effect, we found that prior oral intake of cows' milk proteins affected cell proliferation induced by culturing with cows' milk proteins in vitro, as spleen cells from mice fed a milk-containing diet showed a significantly greater proliferative response than did cells from mice bred on a cows'-milk-free diet. Studies of immune enhancing potentials of beta-casein peptides showed that some peptides stimulate proliferation of immune cells nonspecifically. In conclusion, these findings stress the importance of employing immune cells from mice unexposed to cows' milk for studies of the immunomodulating capacity of cows' milk proteins and peptides, in order to rule out the interference caused by antigen-specific immune responses. By using such cells, we here show that some beta-casein peptides possess the potential to induce proliferation in immune cells in a nonspecific manner.