Aged garlic extract prevents a decline of NK cell number and activity in patients with advanced cancer

J Nutr. 2006 Mar;136(3 Suppl):816S-820S. doi: 10.1093/jn/136.3.816S.


Aged garlic extract (AGE) has manifold biological activities including immunomodulative and antioxidative effects. It is used as a major component of nonprescription tonics and cold-prevention medicines or dietary supplements. Advanced-cancer patients decline in immune functions and quality of life (QOL). The study's subjects were patients with inoperable colorectal, liver, or pancreatic cancer. In a randomized double-blind trial, AGE was administered to one group and a placebo was administered to another for 6 mo. The primary endpoint was a QOL questionnaire based on the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT). The subendpoints were changes in the natural-killer (NK) cell activity the salivary cortisol level from before and after administering AGE. Out of 55 patients invited to participate in the trial, 50 (91%) consented to enroll. They consisted of 42 patients with liver cancer (84%), 7 patients with pancreatic cancer (14%), and 1 patient with colon cancer (2%). Drug compliance was relatively good in both the AGE and placebo groups. Although no difference was observed in QOL, both the number of NK cells and the NK cell activity increased significantly in the AGE group. No adverse effect was observed in either group. The study showed that administering AGE to patients with advanced cancer of the digestive system improved NK cell activity, but caused no improvement in QOL.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Garlic*
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / drug effects
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Count*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Placebos
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Placebos
  • Plant Extracts