International immunopharmacology

Identity of the immunomodulatory proteins from garlic (Allium sativum) with the major garlic lectins or agglutinins.

PMID 20004743


Garlic (Allium sativum), an important medicinal spice, displays a plethora of biological effects including immunomodulation. Although some immunomodulatory proteins from garlic have been described, their identities are still unknown. The present study was envisaged to isolate immunomodulatory proteins from raw garlic, and examine their effects on certain cells of the immune system (lymphocytes, mast cells, and basophils) in relation to mitogenicity and hypersensitivity. Three protein components of approximately 13 kD (QR-1, QR-2, and QR-3 in the ratio 7:28:1) were separated by Q-Sepharose chromatography of 30 kD ultrafiltrate of raw garlic extract. All the 3 proteins exhibited mitogenic activity towards human peripheral blood lymphocytes, murine splenocytes and thymocytes. The mitogenicity of QR-2 was the highest among the three immunomodulatory proteins. QR-1 and QR-2 displayed hemagglutination and mannose-binding activities; QR-3 showed only mannose-binding activity. Immunoreactivity of rabbit anti-QR-1 and anti-QR-2 polyclonal antisera showed specificity for their respective antigens as well as mutual cross-reactivity; QR-3 was better recognized by anti-QR-2 (82%) than by anti-QR-1 (55%). QR-2 induced a 2-fold higher histamine release in vitro from leukocytes of atopic subjects compared to that of non-atopic subjects. In all functional studies, QR-2 was more potent compared to QR-1. Taken together, all these results indicate that the two major proteins QR-2 and QR-1 present in a ratio of 4:1 in raw garlic contribute to garlic's immunomodulatory activity, and their characteristics are markedly similar to the abundant Allium sativum agglutinins (ASA) I and II, respectively.