Our research program focuses on enhancing modulation of immunity by dietary components with a emphasis on modifying specific immune cells that prevent cancer from progressing to tumor. Cells that have tumor killing ability, such as natural killer cells and gamma delta T cells are of particular interest. We investigate individual compounds, such as resveratrol, ellagic acid and quercetin; foods such as passionfruit, mango, guava and muscadine grape; and botanicals or mixtures of other compounds that are found in dietary supplements. A variety of models are used to answer questions about efficacy in human subjects, physiological mechanisms in the mouse model and cellular signal transduction mechanisms in cell culture models.
One of our recent findings shows that the whole food has more potent anticancer activity than either an extract of the polyphenols or an extract of carotenoids. We also show that ellagic acid and quercetin work synergistically to promote apoptosis of human tumor cells. Ethanol consumption has been shown in our lab to be detrimental to immune cell function, while the same amount of ethanol consumed in the form of red wine is not detrimental. We think that it is due to the polyphenols present in red wine that protect the immune cells from free radical damage that results from ethanol metabolism. Other studies with humans show that dietary compounds can improve immune cell proliferation and antioxidant status. In cell cultures studies, we suggest that changes in immune cell function result from changes in the cellular signal transduction molecules.
359 Food Science and Human Nutrition Building
P.O. BOX 110370
University of Florida
Gainesville, Fl 32611-0370