Nasal Acai Polysaccharides Potentiate Innate Immunity to Protect against Pulmonary Francisella tularensis and Burkholderia pseudomallei Infections

Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, USA.
PLoS Pathogens (Impact Factor: 7.56). 03/2012; 8(3):e1002587. DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002587
Source: PubMed


Pulmonary Francisella tularensis and Burkholderia pseudomallei infections are highly lethal in untreated patients, and current antibiotic regimens are not always effective. Activating the innate immune system provides an alternative means of treating infection and can also complement antibiotic therapies. Several natural agonists were screened for their ability to enhance host resistance to infection, and polysaccharides derived from the Acai berry (Acai PS) were found to have potent abilities as an immunotherapeutic to treat F. tularensis and B. pseudomallei infections. In vitro, Acai PS impaired replication of Francisella in primary human macrophages co-cultured with autologous NK cells via augmentation of NK cell IFN-γ. Furthermore, Acai PS administered nasally before or after infection protected mice against type A F. tularensis aerosol challenge with survival rates up to 80%, and protection was still observed, albeit reduced, when mice were treated two days post-infection. Nasal Acai PS administration augmented intracellular expression of IFN-γ by NK cells in the lungs of F. tularensis-infected mice, and neutralization of IFN-γ ablated the protective effect of Acai PS. Likewise, nasal Acai PS treatment conferred protection against pulmonary infection with B. pseudomallei strain 1026b. Acai PS dramatically reduced the replication of B. pseudomallei in the lung and blocked bacterial dissemination to the spleen and liver. Nasal administration of Acai PS enhanced IFN-γ responses by NK and γδ T cells in the lungs, while neutralization of IFN-γ totally abrogated the protective effect of Acai PS against pulmonary B. pseudomallei infection. Collectively, these results demonstrate Acai PS is a potent innate immune agonist that can resolve F. tularensis and B. pseudomallei infections, suggesting this innate immune agonist has broad-spectrum activity against virulent intracellular pathogens.

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    • "Skyberg et al. (2012) reported that a natural polysaccharide extract isolated from Acai berry (Acai PS, derived from the berry of the palm tree Euterpe oleracea in South America) enhanced the clearance of F. tularensis LVS and Schu4 from human macrophages when co-cultured with autologous natural killer cells. Impaired replication of F. tularensis in human macrophages was related to increased production of IFN-gamma by NK cells. "
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