Introduction

Detection of microbial products depends on a sophisticated network of germline-encoded pattern-recognition receptors that recognize microbe-specific patterns, nucleic acids, and metabolic products.1 These receptors trigger signaling leading to activation of transcription factors, which induce cytokines/interferons to orchestrate host defense. We have a variety of foods that may contain something similar to microbial patterns. Since epithelial cells in the intestine and colon express pattern-recognition receptors,2 it is not surprising that these pattern-like molecules regulate the immune system through response to the pattern-recognition receptors in the colon epithelial cells.

The cyanobacterium, Spirulina platensis, has been taken as a health drink or pills for more than 15 years without any undesirable effect on humans.3 Its safety for human consumption has also been confirmed through numerous toxicological studies. Spirulina is a filamentous cyanobacterium containing constituents with various host immune potential. High NK activation is induced in humans having Spirulina.4 Ab production and NK activation are also observed in chicken having small amounts (~ 10,000 ppm) of Spirulina.5 The sugar and lipid moieties of Spirulina are involved in raising host immune responses, although the exact molecules responsible for NK activation have not been identified. The mechanism of NK activation by Spirulina is currently thought to be mediated by two pathways (Figures 9.1 and 9.2): direct

Spirulina

Spirulina

FIGURE 9.1 Spirulina extract induces up-regulation of the S-form of NKG2D receptor in NK cells. Spirulina directly acts on NK cells through lectin-like receptors and up-regulates the S-form of NKG2D (left panel). This form can activate DAP10 and DAP12, and PI3-kinase-mediated NK activation is accelerated (right panel).

FIGURE 9.1 Spirulina extract induces up-regulation of the S-form of NKG2D receptor in NK cells. Spirulina directly acts on NK cells through lectin-like receptors and up-regulates the S-form of NKG2D (left panel). This form can activate DAP10 and DAP12, and PI3-kinase-mediated NK activation is accelerated (right panel).

Spirulina extract

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