Source:  Nutrients 2021, 13, 4395.


Background: Acute respiratory infections are an important health concern. Traditionally, polysaccharide‐enriched extracts from plants, containing immunomodulatory rhamnogalacturonan‐I (RG‐1), were used prophylactically.

Materials and methods: We established the effects of dietary supplementation with carrot‐derived RG‐I (cRG‐I, 0–0.3–1.5 g/day) in 177 healthy individuals (18–65 years) on symptoms following infection with rhinovirus strain 16 (RV16). Primary outcomes were changes in severity and duration of symptoms, and viral load in nasal lavage. Secondary outcomes were changes in innate immune and anti‐viral responses, reflected by CXCL10 and CXCL8 levels and cell differentials in nasal lavage. In a nested cohort, exploratory transcriptome analysis was conducted on nasal epithelium.

Results: Intake of cRG‐I was safe, well‐tolerated and accelerated local cellular and humoral innate immune responses induced by RV16 infection, with the strongest effects at 1.5 g/d. At 0.3 g/d, a faster interferon‐induced response, induction of the key anti‐viral gene EIF2AK2, faster viral clearance, and reduced symptom severity (−20%) and duration (−25%) were observed. Anti‐viral responses, viral clearance and symptom scores at 1.5 g/d were in between those of 0 and 0.3 g/d, suggesting a negative feedback loop preventing excessive interferon responses.

Conclusion: Dietary intake of cRG‐I accelerated innate immune and antiviral responses, and reduced symptoms of an acute respiratory viral infection.