May 16, 2016

A protected and balanced immune systems thanks to the plants

The team of scientists, coordinated by FEM in collaboration with immunologists from UniFI has unveiled a powerful bioactive capacity of plant microRNAs on the immune system.

A protected and balanced immune systems thanks to the plants

With the pioneering work of the Fondazione Mach (FEM), San Michele all’Adige, in collaboration with the University of Florence (UniFI), Italy, the powerful anti-inflammatory and protective efficacy exercised on the immune system by plant microRNA, a class of natural compounds found in fruit and vegetables have been revealed.

From today, there is a new weapon in the fight against chronic inflammation, one of the biggest health problems in the world today.  The team of scientists, coordinated by FEM in collaboration with immunologists from UniFI has unveiled a powerful bioactive capacity of plant microRNAs on the immune system. This can help preventing the onset of chronic inflammation, the root cause of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, as well as cardiovascular, neurological, pulmonary and autoimmune diseases.

The numbers speak for themselves. In 2010 alone, non-communicable diseases have caused 36 million deaths, have accounted for 75% of health costs worldwide and, by 2030, will lead to a loss of 30 billion dollars in global economic output [Source: Harvard School of Public Health]. The discovery made by FEM will lead to the development of new strategies for the regulation of the immune system and the prevention of these pathologies.

According to Dr. Viola, who headed the research, “The mechanism of action of plant microRNA on our immune systems is surprising and extremely specific. It provides a novel interpretation for the protective efficacy of the daily consumption of fruit and vegetables on the main non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and autoimmune diseases, which all share chronic inflammation as a common root.”

While some plant microRNAs can be absorbed through the diet, their bioavailability results insufficient to confer the protection of the immune system observed in tests on humans and mice in the laboratory. However, this protection may soon be available through technologies of extraction, purification and formulation of plant microRNA.

This discovery can also offer novel therapeutic solutions. “The specific aspects of plant microRNAs bioactivity pave the way for the development of new pharmacological solutions against important pathologies of the immune system – states Dr Cavalieri from UniFI who coordinated the immunological experiments - In the laboratory, for example, treatments with plant microRNA were revealed as efficient also in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, such as Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE) the mouse equivalent of multiple sclerosis.

For further information, please see the article published in “Scientific Reports” (Nature Group) here: Cavalieri D, Rizzetto L, Tocci N., Rivero D., Asquini E., Si- Ammour A., Bonechi E., Ballerini C., Viola R., Plant microRNAs as novel immunomodulatory agents. Sci Rep., | 6:25761 | DOI: 10.1038/srep25761.

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