Is there a potential application of a fermented nutraceutical in acute respiratory illnesses? An in-vivo placebo-controlled, cross-over clinical study in different age groups of healthy subjects

J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2012 Apr-Jun;26(2):285-94.


The role of oxidants in viral diseases is fairly complex because it includes metabolic regulation both of host metabolism and viral replication. However, a role for reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) as mediators of virus-induced lung damage is supported by studies and antioxidants can thus be expected to act at many different levels. The aim of the present pilot study was to test an antioxidant nutraceutical approach on some relevant immunological parameters known to be affected in common seasonal respiratory tract infection. The study population consisted of 90 sedentary healthy patients, previously selected as being GSTM1-positive, divided into three groups: A) 20-40 years; B) 41-65 years; B) over 65 years. Each patients was administered a life style and dietary questionnaire. Subjects were supplemented for 6 weeks with either 9g/day (4.5g twice a day sublingually) of a fermented papaya preparation (Osato Research Institute, Gifu, Japan) or placebo. After a further month period of wash out, subjects were treated again in a crossover manner. Parameters checked were as follows: routine blood tests with WBC formula, saliva flow rate and secretary IgA and lysozyme production and redox gene expression of Phase II enzyme and SOD from upper airways cells (from nasal lavage). Salivary secretion rate showed an age-related decline and was significantly increased by FPP supplementation only in the youngest age-group (p less than 0.05). Subjects treated with FPP showed a significantly higher lever of IgA and lisozyme production., irrespective of age group while their baseline production was significantly lower in the oldest age-group as compared to the youngest one (C vs A, p less than 0.05). FPP treatment brought about a significant upregulation of all phase II enzyme and SOD gene expression tested in nasal lavage cells. In conclusion, FPP supplementation during 1 month resulted in higher salivary IgA and increase in phase II and SOD enzyme expression, i.e the most important antioxidant in the respiratory tract. The biological significance of these effects i.e., whether it will help reducing the whole respiratory oxidative stress in the human airway and, hopefully, the incidence and/or severity of URTI remains to be demonstrated in longer clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Carica*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Epigenomics
  • Fermentation
  • Glutathione S-Transferase pi / genetics
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy*
  • Salivation / drug effects
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics


  • Antioxidants
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • GSTP1 protein, human
  • Glutathione S-Transferase pi
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • glutathione S-transferase M1