Immunostimulating activity of Lycium chinense Miller root extract through enhancing cytokine and chemokine production and phagocytic capacity of macrophages.
Whereas the fruits and a small portion of root bark of Lycium trees are commonly marketed in Korea as traditional medicine or functional foods, majority of their whole roots have been largely discarded. To develop the whole root of these plants as more value-added materials, this study aimed to evaluate the potential immunostimulating activity of a water extract (GTR-101) from L. chinense Miller roots using macrophages. The GTR-101 (0-500 μg/ml) significantly, dose-dependently increased the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α and IL-6), chemokines (RANTES and MIP-1α), nitric oxide, and the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase, and activated the Akt, NF-κB, and MAPKs (ERK and p38) signaling proteins. GTR-101 also significantly enhanced the phagocytic activity of RAW 264.7 cells and bone marrow-derived macrophages. These results suggest that GTR-101 stimulates the early innate immunity via inducing the pro-inflammatory cytokine and chemokine secretion and enhancing the phagocytic activity of macrophages. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: The GTR-101 prepared from L. chinense Miller roots may be useful for enhancing body's defense systems especially in the elderly and cancer patients with an impaired or reduced immune response and may thus be effectively used as a natural immunostimulating ingredient in health foods or complementary medicine.