Select phytochemicals suppress human T-lymphocytes and mouse splenocytes suggesting their use in autoimmunity and transplantation

Shazaan Hushmendy, Lalithapriya Jayakumar, Amy B. Hahn, Devang Bhoiwala, Dipti L. Bhoiwala, Dana R. Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


We have considered a novel "rational" gene targeting approach for treating pathologies whose genetic bases are defined using select phytochemicals. We reason that one such potential application of this approach would be conditions requiring immunosuppression such as autoimmune disease and transplantation, where the genetic target is clearly defined; i.e., interleukin-2 and associated T-cell activation. Therefore, we hypothesized that select phytochemicals can suppress T-lymphocyte proliferation both in vitro and in vivo. The immunosuppressive effects of berry extract, curcumin, quercetin, sulforaphane, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), resveratrol, α-tocopherol, vitamin C and sucrose were tested on anti-CD3 plus anti-CD28-activated primary human T-lymphocytes in culture. Curcumin, sulforaphane, quercetin, berry extract and EGCG all significantly inhibited T-cell proliferation, and this effect was not due to toxicity. IL-2 production was also reduced by these agents, implicating this important T-cell cytokine in proliferation suppression. Except for berry extract, these same agents also inhibited mouse splenic T-cell proliferation and IL-2 production. Subsequent in vivo studies revealed that quercetin (but not sulforaphane) modestly suppressed mouse splenocyte proliferation following supplementation of BALB/c mice diets. This effect was especially prominent if corrected for the loss of supplement "recall" as observed in cultured T-cells. These results suggest the potential use of these select phytochemicals for treating autoimmune and transplant patients, and support our strategy of using select phytochemicals to treat genetically-defined pathologies, an approach that we believe is simple, healthy, and cost-effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-578
Number of pages11
JournalNutrition Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoimmune
  • Healthy dietary nutrients
  • IL-2
  • Immunosuppression
  • Lymphocyte
  • Mouse
  • Splenocyte
  • T-cells
  • Transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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