Dr. Matar and Dr. Ritz were recognized for their pioneering research on the mode of action of the mycelial mushroom compound AHCC, an alpha-glucan rich immune modulator.
“Previous studies have demonstrated that AHCC has a significant positive effect on the body’s innate immune response,” said Professor Matar. “This latest research helped us understand how the anti-inflammatory immune response is initiated at the level of the intestinal epithelium.”
"Our results suggest that AHCC may play a role in the orchestration of the immune response and the maintenance of immune homeostasis in part by priming the TLR-2 and TLR-4 gate at the intestinal epithelium," said Dr. Ritz. “AHCC appears to participate in innate immune recognition, which is an important part of first line immune defense.”
The study showed that mice fed with AHCC had higher levels of IgA+ immune cells in the intestines and increased sIgA, IL-10 and IFN-y in the intestinal fluid.
Because 70-80% of immune cells reside in the intestine, understanding how active molecules in functional foods interact with innate immune response there may provide important health benefits.
"We were honored to receive the Best of Research Award for our study,” said Professor Matar, a featured speaker at this year’s ICNIM meeting. “AHCC and other complex food bioactive compounds offer an exciting new area of research for understanding how the innate immune system interacts with its food environment and how we might capitalize on such advancements to promote human health.”
Dr. Matar and Dr. Ritz have collaborated for the past 8 years publishing several research papers on the topic of immunomodulatory bioactive nutrients, including fish proteins, bovine colostrum and now AHCC.