Theobromine is responsible for the effects of cocoa on the antibody immune status of rats. - GreenMedInfo Summary
Theobromine Is Responsible for the Effects of Cocoa on the Antibody Immune Status of Rats.
J Nutr. 2018 Mar 1 ;148(3):464-471. PMID: 29546302
Background: A 10% cocoa-enriched diet influences immune system functionality including the prevention of the antibody response and the induction of lower immunoglobulin (Ig) concentrations. However, neither cocoa polyphenols nor cocoa fiber can totally explain these immunoregulatory properties.
Objectives: This study aimed to establish the influence of cocoa theobromine in systemic and intestinal Ig concentrations and to determine the effect of cocoa or theobromine feeding on lymphoid tissue lymphocyte composition.
Methods: Three-week-old female Lewis rats were fed either a standard diet (AIN-93M; RF group), a 10% cocoa diet (CC group), or a 0.25% theobromine diet (the same amount provided by the cocoa diet; TB group) in 2 separate experiments that lasted 19 (experiment 1) or 8 (experiment 2) d. Serum IgG, IgM, IgA, and intestinal secretory IgA (sIgA) concentrations were determined. In addition, at the end of experiment 2, thymus, mesenteric lymph node (MLN), and spleen lymphocyte populations were analyzed.
Results: Both CC and TB groups in experiments 1 and 2 showed similar serum IgG, IgM, and IgA and intestinal sIgA concentrations, which were lower than those in the RF group (46-98% lower in experiment 1 and 23-91% lower in experiment 2; P < 0.05). In addition, in experiment 2, the cocoa and theobromine diets similarly changed the thymocyte composition by increasing CD4-CD8- (+133%) and CD4+CD8- (+53%) proportions (P < 0.01), changed the MLN composition by decreasing the percentage of T-helper (Th) lymphocytes (-3%) (P = 0.015), and changed the spleen composition by increasing the proportion of Th lymphocytes (+9%) (P < 0.001) after 1 wk of diet treatment.
Conclusions: The theobromine in cocoa plays an immunoregulatory role that is responsible for cocoa's influence on both systemic and intestinal antibody concentrations and also for modifying lymphoid tissue lymphocyte composition in young healthy Lewis rats. The majority of these changes are observed after a single week of being fed a diet containing 0.25% theobromine.