Background: Our main objective was to evaluate the ability of cranberry phytochemicals to modify immunity, specifically γδ-T cell proliferation, after daily consumption of a cranberry beverage, and its effect on health outcomes related to cold and influenza symptoms.
Methods: The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel intervention. Subjects drank a low calorie cranberry beverage (450 ml) made with a juice-derived, powdered cranberry fraction (n = 22) or a placebo beverage (n = 23), daily, for 10 wk. PBMC were cultured for six days with autologous serum and PHA-L stimulation. Cold and influenza symptoms were self-reported.
Results: The proliferation index of γδ-T cells in culture was almost five times higher after 10 wk of cranberry beverage consumption (p <0.001). In the cranberry beverage group, the incidence of illness was not reduced, however significantly fewer symptoms of illness were reported (p = 0.031).
Conclusions: Consumption of the cranberry beverage modified the ex vivo proliferation of γδ-T cells. As these cells are located in the epithelium and serve as a first line of defense, improving their function may be related to reducing the number of symptoms associated with a cold and flu.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01398150.