Immunomodulatory effects of dietary polyphenols

Hira Shakoor, Jack Feehan, Vasso Apostolopoulos, Carine Platat, Ayesha Salem Al Dhaheri, Habiba I. Ali, Leila Cheikh Ismail, Marijan Bosevski, Lily Stojanovska

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


Functional and nutraceutical foods provide an alternative way to improve immune function to aid in the management of various diseases. Traditionally, many medicinal products have been derived from natural compounds with healing properties. With the development of research into nutraceuticals, it is becoming apparent that many of the beneficial properties of these compounds are at least partly due to the presence of polyphenols. There is evidence that dietary polyphenols can influence dendritic cells, have an immunomodulatory effect on macrophages, increase proliferation of B cells, T cells and suppress Type 1 T helper (Th1), Th2, Th17 and Th9 cells. Polyphenols reduce inflammation by suppressing the pro-inflammatory cytokines in inflammatory bowel disease by inducing Treg cells in the intestine, inhibition of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and induction of apoptosis, decreasing DNA damage. Polyphenols have a potential role in prevention/treatment of auto-immune diseases like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis by regulating signaling pathways, suppressing inflammation and limiting demyelination. In addition, polyphenols cause immunomodulatory effects against allergic reaction and autoimmune disease by inhibition of autoimmune T cell proliferation and downregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-1, interferon-γ (IFN-γ)). Herein, we summarize the immunomodulatory effects of polyphenols and the underlying mechanisms involved in the stimulation of immune responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number728
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Anti-inflammatory cytokines
  • Immunomodulation
  • Polyphenols
  • Pro-inflammatory cytokines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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