A compound found commonly in grape skins and red wine, known as resveratrol, has been found to affect the immune systems of dogs in different ways. The researchers believe that these findings could eventually lead to the use of resveratrol in treatments of cancer and other diseases in dogs and humans.
Sandra Axiak-Bechtel, assistant professor in oncology at University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in the US, said, "This study makes it clear that resveratrol does cause the immune systems of dogs to change. We found that resveratrol simultaneously causes dogs' immune systems to increase and decrease in different ways. If we can better understand why resveratrol makes these changes and learn to control them, the chemical may have valuable uses in treatments of cancer and other diseases in dogs and humans."
For the study, researchers added resveratrol to canine blood and measured innate immune system function. The team found that resveratrol caused the stimulated white blood cells to release more pro-inflammatory and fewer anti-inflammatory cytokines, which are signals cells use to communicate with each other during infection and inflammation. These anti-inflammatory cytokines point to a stimulated immune system. However, the research team also observed a decrease in the ability of neutrophils, which are immune cells that help fight diseases, to kill bacteria. This suggested a decreased immune system strength.
Axiak-Bechtel said., "Seeing a decrease in neutrophil function typically means an immune system is losing the ability to kill invaders like bacteria. It is clear that resveratrol is having a distinct effect on how the immune system reacts, but we still do not fully understand how this reaction can be best used to fight disease. Once we have a better understanding of this process, resveratrol could be a valuable supplementary treatment in fighting diseases like cancer."
This study was published in Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology.