Globally it is estimated that 150m people are affected by asthma, with children making up around 10% of sufferers. In New Zealand, one of every nine adults and every seven children are prescribed asthma medication.
Previous studies have found that lung function can be improved by consuming fruits which contain high levels of polyphenols, although the underlying mechanisms behind this are largely unknown.
Through their investigations of berry fruits, scientists at Plant & Food Research in Auckland, working in collaboration with the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, have made new discoveries on the role polyphenols play in reducing the effects of asthma and chronic airway inflammation.
The research on mice examined two key agents associated with regulating lung inflammation: arginase, closely linked with decreased inflammation in asthma; and matrix metalloproteinase-9, associated with improved tissue remodelling.
“We’ve seen some really exciting results from this recent study,” says Plant & Food Research Science group leader, Roger Hurst. “Our results suggest that Boysenberry consumption may help protect the lungs and associated airways from the chronic build-up of damaged and scar tissue.
“These agents appear to support an environment capable of reducing scar tissue deposits on the lungs.”
The research also observed structural improvements in the lungs through the activation of specific immune cell types which are known to assist tissue repair and retention of normal lung function.
These findings provide the first evidence that Boysenberry consumption could be used to support the body’s natural defences and potentially reduce negative physical effects on the lungs caused by asthma and other chronic pulmonary conditions.
The study, which was published in American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, concludes: “The results from our studies show that Boysenberry administration exhibits a beneficial effect on chronic lung fibrosis in both a therapeutic, and prophylactic setting. This indicates that Boysenberry consumption may help avoid inappropriate fibrotic remodeling in cases of both poorly controlled and well-controlled asthma.”
Source: American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.
July 1, 2016. doi:10.1152/ajplung.00309.2015
“Boysenberry ingestion supports fibrolytic macrophages with the capacity to 1 ameliorate chronic lung remodeling”
Authors: Odette M Shaw, et al