Immune health is gaining unprecedented popularity among consumers. Along with the rise in interest in this topic, people are wondering more and more about how the immune system works and asking questions such as:

“How can I make my immune system more alert?”

Of course, this is an intriguing question and unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer. This is mainly because the immune system is not a single entity, but it is a “system” – and rather complex too – formed by an extended network of cells and molecules, constantly working together to keep us protected from “intruders” which can cause illness.

It is not news that a healthy lifestyle is crucial for a responsive immune system and that nutrition certainly plays a big role. This is why, today, we want to introduce you to a fantastic dietary compound which has been extensively researched for its ImmunoVigilance function.

 

The wheat’s hidden gem.

Wheat grains are comprised of well-known dietary compounds such as cellulose, lignin and pectin. Not everyone knows, that hidden in the wheat kernel’s starchy endosperm, there is a major polysaccharide, with a complex structure,  that is often overlooked, and in most cases discarded by the food industry during the wheat processing: Arabinoxylan. 

Despite the complicated name and complexity of this 3D-molecule, you will be amazed by its elegant functions in the human body. In fact, due to the prospective offered by this exciting prebiotic molecule in promoting well-being, BioActor has developed NAXUS: the arabinoxylans extract, derived from the most nutritious part of the wheat.


Of course, NAXUS has been extensively investigated, and several clinical trials have been conducted, revealing even more health benefits.

 

Already at a low dose, NAXUS showed an ImmunoVigilance effect at three levels:

  • Gut Barrier Integrity
  • Innate Immunity
  • Adaptive Immunity 

1. Gut Barrier Integrity

It all starts inside the gut, where a crucial defence barrier system, called “gut mucosa”, resides. 

Think about this barrier like a fence which selectively lets through nutrients to fuel the body, and at the same time prevents pathogens from entering the bloodstream (and thus cause harm to your body).  Proteins called tight junction act like staples in the gut mucosa to control the gut permeability – a leaky gut results in unwanted substances entering the bloodstream. 

The Gastroenterology Dept of Maastricht University Medical Centre has put NAXUS to the test in a clinical trial, where 47 overweight subjects were assigned to groups receiving either the arabinoxylan extract or a placebo for six weeks. Colon biopsies were obtained to analyze gene transcription of the tight junction protein. In other words, researchers wanted to measure if there was an increase in these proteins’ production. 

After six weeks, the group that consumed NAXUS showed upregulated transcription of the tight junction proteins occludin ad claudin-3 and -4. Moreover, the level of beneficial short-chain fatty acids acetate, butyrate and propionate were significantly increased, indicating that “good bacteria” were outgrowing the “pathogen competitors”. The icing on the cake was the lower level of TNFα, an important marker for inflammation. These results showed that NAXUS promotes gut health, strengthening the first line of defence inside our body.

 

2. Innate Immunity

The second ImmunoVigilance effect of NAXUS is expressed on the innate immunity cells. As the name suggests, innate immunity is that component of the immune system you are born with. In other words, it is written in your genes. Innate immune cells are vital in a well functioning immune system because they defend us in case of infiltration of pathogens in human tissues.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Wageningen University (NL) found that NAXUS stimulates innate immunity cells, called macrophages, to secrete a unique profile of molecules called cyto- and chemokines. These are extraordinary molecules because they are used as a mean of communication in the immune system. In fact, thanks to the secretion of these molecules, the other “soldiers” of the immune system, such as monocytes, are called to action to protect the body at the required site of infection. Therefore,  by stimulating the production of specific patterns of cyto- and chemokines, NAXUS  brings the immune system to a more vigilant state.

Interestingly, it was also shown that NAXUS outperforms other polysaccharides (for example derived from yeast, shiitake, and apple), which were examined in the same study, demonstrating superior performance

 

3. Adaptive Immunity

The third level supported by NAXUS is the so-called adaptive immunity. Adaptive immunity is a more specific type of immunity that is “acquired” after you’re born, and it enables your immune system to recognize and remember specific pathogens. 

This is the mechanism upon which vaccines are based. Put in simple words: a small part of a virus or a dead virus is injected to stimulate a person’s immune system to produce antibodies and hence immunity for a specific disease. This is very useful, in case later on the body is challenged by the real virus, since the body is able to build a memory, and can act more quickly and efficiently to get rid of it.

Interestingly, NAXUS has been the centre of attention in a clinical study which involves vaccine efficiency

In this study, subjects were given either NAXUS or placebo for two weeks. Following this period, participants were all vaccinated for influenza A H1N1, also known as common flu. After being vaccinated, subjects kept taking the NAXUS (or the placebo) for three more weeks. At several time points before and after the vaccine administration antibody titres were measured to investigate the vaccine’s response. The higher the concentration of antibodies, the more efficient the vaccine was. 

Researchers concluded that five weeks of NAXUS consumption significantly increases the antibody response. Furthermore, it was observed that this effect resulted in a significantly lower incidence of respiratory tract infections, compared to placebo. 

1. Salden BN, Troost FJ, Wilms E, et al Reinforcement of intestinal epithelial barrier by arabinoxylans in overweight and obese subjects A randomized controlled trial Arabinoxylans in gut barrier Clin Nutr 2018 37 2 471 480

2. Govers C, Tang Y, Stolte EH, Wichers HJ, Mes JJ Wheat derived arabinoxylans reduced M 2 macrophage functional activity, but enhanced monocyte recruitment capacity Food Funct 2020 11 8 7073 7083

3. Laue C, Mes J, Stanton C et al A randomized, controlled clinical study on the effect of non-digestible polysaccharides on the immune response to influenza vaccination in elderly (publication in preparation)