The immunomodulatory proteins present in garlic have recently been shown to be identical to the garlic lectins ASA I and ASA II [Clement F, Pramod SN, Venkatesh YP. Int. Immunopharmacol. 2010; 10: 316-324]. In this study, the stability of garlic lectins as a function of pH, temperature and denaturants has been examined in relation to biological activity (hemagglutination and hagocytosis). Stability of garlic lectins in simulated gastric fluid (SGF) was assessed by their hemagglutination activity, immunoreactivity, and intactness by SDS-PAGE. Garlic lectins were moderately stable in SGF for up to 30 min; while they retained hemagglutination activities, immunoreactivity with the respective rabbit antiserum decreased immediately (0.5 min) to 10-30%. ASA I retained ~80% hemagglutination activity in the pH range 2-12; however, ASA II retained only 40% in the pH ranges 2-4 and 10-12. Garlic lectins exposed to 60 °C (30 min) and pepsin (1 and 2 min) retained hemagglutination and phagocytic activities. Urea (4M) and Gdn.HCl (2M) did not affect hemagglutination. The immunogenicity of garlic lectins upon oral feeding in BALB/c mice was examined. A lectin-specific serum IgG response was seen in mice comparable to the oral immunogen, phytohemagglutinin. The recovered lectin in feces of mice administered with garlic lectins showed antigenicity identical to that of the administered proteins. The stabilities of the garlic lectins, their ability to withstand the gastrointestinal passage, and their recognition by the immune system upon oral feeding reinforce the reported presence of natural antibodies to garlic proteins in normal human sera.
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