A purified, fermented, extract of Triticum aestivum has lymphomacidal activity mediated via natural killer cell activation

Gustavo Barisone, Robert T O'Donnell, Yunpeng Ma, Mastewal W. Abuhay, Kathleen Lundeberg, Sonia Gowda, Joseph Tuscano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) affects over 400,000 people in the United States; its incidence increases with age. Treatment options are numerous and expanding, yet efficacy is often limited by toxicity, particularly in the elderly. Nearly 70% patients eventually die of the disease. Many patients explore less toxic alternative therapeutics proposed to boost anti-tumor immunity, despite a paucity of rigorous scientific data. Here we evaluate the lymphomacidal and immunomodulatory activities of a protein fraction isolated from fermented wheat germ. Fermented wheat germ extract was produced by fermenting wheat germ with Saccharomyces cerevisiae. A protein fraction was tested for lymphomacidal activity in vitro using NHL cell lines and in vivo using mouse xenografts. Mechanisms of action were explored in vitro by evaluating apoptosis and cell cycle and in vivo by immunophenotyping and measurement of NK cell activity. Potent lymphomacidal activity was observed in a panel of NHL cell lines and mice bearing NHL xenografts. This activity was not dependent on wheat germ agglutinin or benzoquinones. Fermented wheat germ proteins induced apoptosis in NHL cells, and augmented immune effector mechanisms, as measured by NK cell killing activity, degranulation and production of IFNγ. Fermented wheat germ extract can be easily produced and is efficacious in a human lymphoma xenograft model. The protein fraction is quantifiable and more potent, shows direct pro-apoptotic properties, and enhances immune-mediated tumor eradication. The results presented herein support the novel concept that proteins in fermented wheat germ have direct pro-apoptotic activity on lymphoma cells and augment host immune effector mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0190860
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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