Sea cucumber (Codonopsis pilosula) oligopeptides: immunomodulatory effects based on stimulating Th cells, cytokine secretion and antibody production
This study aimed to investigate the immunomodulating activity of small molecule oligopeptides from sea cucumber (Codonopsis pilosula) (SOP) in mice. Seven assays were performed to determine the immonomodulatory effects, including splenic lymphocyte proliferation and delayed-type hypersensitivity assays (cell-mediated immunity), IgM antibody response of spleen to sheep red blood cells (SRBC) and serum hemolysin level assays (humoral immunity), the carbon clearance assay and the phagocytic capacity of peritoneal cavity phagocytes assay (macrophage phagocytosis), and the NK cell activity assay. Spleen T lymphocyte subpopulations, multiplex sandwich immunoassays of serum cytokine and immunoglobulin levels and enzyme-linked imunosorbent assays for small intestinal secretory immunoglobulin were performed to study the mechanism by which SOP affects the immune system. We found that SOP could improve immune functions in mice, which may be due to the enhancement of the functions of cell-mediated immunity, humoral immunity, macrophage phagocytosis and NK cell activity. From the cellular and molecular assays, we postulated that the immunomodulatory effects are most likely attributed to the stimulation of Th cells, cytokine secretion and antibody production.