Bromelain is an accelerator of phagocytosis, respiratory burst and Killing of Candida albicans by human granulocytes and monocytes

Eur J Med Res. 2001 May 29;6(5):193-200.


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the influence of immuno modulating agents like bromelain and trypsin (e.g. Wobenzym on granulocyte and monocyte functions in healthy volunteers and patients with disorders of the humoral immuno system X-linked agammaglobulinaemia (XLA) and common variable immuno deficiency (CVID) and to find out whether the unspecific immunity could be improved by these enzymes.

Methods: In a whole-blood assay kinetics of phagocytosis, respiratory burst and killing (PBK) were measured in blood samples incubated with and without bromelain and trypsin (B/T) using Candida albicans as target organism. The time-reaction curves were analysed determining their gradient (T1) and their onset (T2) as well as the half effect time (HET).

Results: Phagocytes from patients with XLA showed a significantly accelerated basal phagocytosis (reduction of HET by 24% p < 0.001) compared to healthy controls. After incubation with B/T (10 microg/ml each) speed of phagocytosis was nearly doubled (phagocyte activity p < 0.0001, Candida uptake p < 0.003), T2 of respiratory burst was reduced by 65 % (p < 0.0001) and killing was accelerated by 27% (p < 0.046). However, the maximal activities of all kinetics were not altered. Incubation of phagocytes from healthy controls with B/T accelerated phagocytosis to a level comparable to that of untreated phagocytes from patients with XLA and also accelerated reactive oxygen species (ROS) production (reduction of HET by 28%, p < 0.012). In contrast to phagocytes from patients with XLA, phagocytes of patients with CVID showed a similar stimulation by B/T like healthy controls. Further experiments with the single substances showed that bromelain was the active compound.

Conclusion: Our data suggest, that bromelain possesses immuno stimulatory properties. Phagocytes of XLA patients appear to be particularly susceptible to this stimulation.

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Agammaglobulinemia / immunology
  • Bromelains / immunology
  • Bromelains / pharmacology*
  • Candida albicans / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Common Variable Immunodeficiency / immunology
  • Granulocytes / immunology*
  • Granulocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects*
  • Phagocytosis / physiology
  • Respiratory Burst / drug effects*
  • Respiratory Burst / physiology
  • Trypsin / pharmacology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Bromelains
  • Trypsin