Mechanisms involved in down-regulation of intestinal IgA in rats by high cocoa intake

J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Jul;23(7):838-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2011.04.008. Epub 2011 Aug 12.


Previous studies have shown that rat intestinal immunoglobulin A (IgA) concentration and lymphocyte composition of the intestinal immune system were influenced by a highly enriched cocoa diet. The aim of this study was to dissect the mechanisms by which a long-term high cocoa intake was capable of modifying gut secretory IgA in Wistar rats. After 7 weeks of nutritional intervention, Peyer's patches, mesenteric lymph nodes and the small intestine were excised for gene expression assessment of IgA, transforming growth factor β, C-C chemokine receptor-9 (CCR9), interleukin (IL)-6, CD40, retinoic acid receptors (RARα and RARβ), C-C chemokine ligand (CCL)-25 and CCL28 chemokines, polymeric immunoglobulin receptor and toll-like receptors (TLR) expression by real-time polymerase chain reaction. As in previous studies, secretory IgA concentration decreased in intestinal wash and fecal samples after cocoa intake. Results from the gene expression showed that cocoa intake reduced IgA and IL‑6 in Peyer's patches and mesenteric lymph nodes, whereas in small intestine, cocoa decreased IgA, CCR9, CCL28, RARα and RARβ. Moreover, cocoa-fed animals presented an altered TLR expression pattern in the three compartments studied. In conclusion, a high-cocoa diet down-regulated cytokines such as IL-6, which is required for the activation of B cells to become IgA-secreting cells, chemokines and chemokine receptors, such as CCL28 and CCR9 together with RARα and RARβ, which are involved in the gut homing of IgA-secreting cells. Moreover, cocoa modified the cross-talk between microbiota and intestinal cells as was detected by an altered TLR pattern. These overall effects in the intestine may explain the intestinal IgA down-regulatory effect after the consumption of a long-term cocoa-enriched diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cacao / chemistry*
  • Chemokines, CC / genetics
  • Chemokines, CC / metabolism
  • Diet*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism
  • Peyer's Patches / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, CCR / genetics
  • Receptors, CCR / metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptors / genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptors / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism


  • CC chemokine receptor 9
  • CCL28 protein, rat
  • Chemokines, CC
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory
  • Interleukin-6
  • Receptors, CCR
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta