Lycopene intake induces colonic regulatory T cells in mice and suppresses food allergy symptoms

Chihiro Ushiroda, Tomohisa Takagi, Nobuo Fuke, Katsura Mizushima, Yasuko Hirai, Yasuki Higashimura, Akihito Harusato, Kazuhiro Kamada, Kazuhiko Uchiyama, Takeshi Ishikawa, Koichi Aizawa, Hiroyuki Suganuma, Yoshito Itoh, Yuji Naito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Food allergy (FA) is a common disease in children; thus, a high level of safety is required for its prevention and treatment. Colonic regulatory T cells (Tregs) have been suggested to attenuate FA. We investigated the Treg-inducing ability and anti-FA effects of carotenoids, a pigment contained in vegetables and fruits. Methods: C57BL/6N mice were fed a diet containing 0.01% (w/w) of lycopene, β-carotene, astaxanthin or lutein for 4 weeks, and the population of colonic Tregs was assessed. Subsequently, to evaluate the Treg-inducing ability of lycopene, splenic naïve CD4+ T cells from BALB/c mice were cultured with anti-CD3/CD28 antibody, TGF-β and lycopene, and the frequencies of Tregs were examined. The effect of 0.1% (w/w) lycopene containing diet on FA was investigated in OVA-induced FA model BALB/c mice. Results: In screening, only lycopene significantly increased the frequency and number of colonic Tregs. Lycopene also increased Treg differentiation in splenic naïve CD4+ T cells. In FA mice, lycopene feeding significantly increased the number of colonic Tregs and attenuated allergic symptoms. The expression levels of IL-4, IL-9 and IL-13 mRNA in colonic mucosa were also significantly reduced by lycopene. IL-9 is known to induce proliferation of mast cells, and we found that lycopene feeding significantly reduced the number of mast cells in the colonic mucosa of FA mice. Conclusion: Our results suggest that lycopene, a carotenoid present in many common foods on the market, may have the potential to induce colonic Tregs and suppress FA symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13691
JournalPediatric Allergy and Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01-2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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