Although most studies have focused on the cholesterol-lowering activity of phytosterols, other biological actions have been ascribed to these plant sterol compounds, one of which is a potential immune modulatory effect. To gain insight into this issue, we used a mouse model of acute, aseptic inflammation induced by a single subcutaneous turpentine injection. Hypercholesterolemic apolipoprotein E-deficient (apoE-/-) mice, fed with or without a 2% phytosterol supplement, were treated with turpentine or saline and euthanized 48 h later. No differences were observed in spleen lymphocyte subsets between phytosterol- and control-fed apoE-/- mice. However, cultured spleen lymphocytes of apoE-/- mice fed with phytosterols and treated with turpentine showed increased IL-2 and IFN-γ secretion (T-helper type1, Th1 lymphocyte cytokines) compared with turpentine-treated, control-fed animals. In contrast, there was no change in Th2 cytokines IL-4 and IL-10. Phytosterols also inhibit intestinal cholesterol absorption in wild-type C57BL/6J mice but, in this case, without decreasing plasma cholesterol. Spleen lymphocytes of turpentine-treated C57BL/6J mice fed with phytosterols also showed increased IL-2 production, but IFN-γ, IL-4 and IL-10 production was unchanged. The Th1/Th2 ratio was significantly increased both in phytosterol-fed apoE-/- and C57BL/6J mice. We conclude that phytosterols modulate the T-helper immune response in vivo, in part independently of their hypocholesterolemic effect in a setting of acute, aseptic inflammation. Further study of phytosterol effects on immune-based diseases characterized by an exacerbated Th2 response is thus of interest. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
|Publication status||Published - 1 May 2007|
- Th1: Th2