Compound found in blueberries could treat inflammatory diseases

Photo (c) JOE CICAK - Getty Images

Researchers say the discovery could help consumers struggling with several chronic conditions

Recent studies have highlighted the health benefits associated with blueberries, which include boosting heart health and improving blood pressure. Now, experts from the Tokyo University of Science are exploring yet another way that these berries can promote better health. 

According to a new study, a compound found in blueberries -- pterostilbene (PSB) -- can be an effective source of treatment for chronic inflammatory diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

“For disease prevention, it is important to identify the beneficial components in foods and to understand the underlying mechanisms by which immune responses and homeostasis are modulated in the body,” said researcher Dr. Takuya Yashiro. “Our findings showed that PSB possesses a strong immunosuppressive property, paving the way for a new, natural treatment for IBD.” 

A natural treatment approach

The first part of the study involved the researchers searching for a compound that would target two types of cells that are crucial to IBD-related symptoms: dendritic cells and T cells. In patients with IBD, both cells control the body’s immune response and subsequent inflammation. 

PSB became the strongest contender among all of the compounds that were tested. In looking at how it affected both dendritic cells and T cells, the researchers learned that PSB was effective at reducing the body’s strong immune and inflammatory response. The compound worked to produce more cells that stop inflammation and also prevented T cells from multiplying and creating a stronger immune response. 

The second part of the study tested the compound on mice with IBD. The researchers administered PSB orally and then monitored the mice’s health outcomes. They observed that the mice’s IBD symptoms weren’t as severe once they started taking the PSB; overall, the researchers say inflammation was lower after the compound was introduced.

For consumers with IBD, finding an effective treatment can be difficult because most interventions are designed to reduce the body’s immune response, which will ultimately reduce symptoms. That makes these findings all the more positive since PSB was effective in doing just that. 

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