Cocoa and Cocoa Fibre Differentially Modulate IgA and IgM Production at Mucosal Sites

Br J Nutr. 2016 May;115(9):1539-46. doi: 10.1017/S000711451600074X. Epub 2016 Mar 15.


Previous studies have shown that a 10 % cocoa (C10) diet, containing polyphenols and fibre among others, modifies intestinal and systemic Ig production. The present study aimed at evaluating the impact of C10 on IgA and IgM production in the intestinal and extra-intestinal mucosal compartments, establishing the involvement of cocoa fibre (CF) in such effects. Mechanisms by which C10 intake may affect IgA synthesis in the salivary glands were also studied. To this effect, rats were fed either a standard diet, a diet containing C10, CF or inulin. Intestinal (the gut wash (GW), Peyer's patches (PP) and mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN)) and extra-intestinal (salivary glands) mucosal tissues and blood samples were collected for IgA and IgM quantification. The gene expressions of IgA production- and homing-related molecules were studied in the salivary glands. The C10 diet decreased intestinal IgA and IgM production. Although the CF diet decreased the GW IgA concentration, it increased PP, MLN and serum IgA concentrations. Both the C10 and the CF diets produced a down-regulatory effect on IgA secretion in the extra-intestinal tissues. The C10 diet interacted with the mechanisms involved in IgA synthesis, whereas the CF showed particular effects on the homing and transcytosis of IgA across the salivary glands. Overall, CF was able to up-regulate IgA production in the intestinal-inductor compartments, whereas it down-regulated its production at the mucosal-effector ones. Further studies must be directed to ascertain the mechanisms involved in the effect of particular cocoa components on gut-associated lymphoid tissue.

Keywords: Ag antigens; C10 10 % cocoa; CCL28 chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 28; CF cocoa fibre; Cocoa fibre; Cocoa polyphenols; GALT gut-associated lymphoid tissue; GW gut wash; I inulin; IgA-SC IgA-secreting cells; Immunoglobulins; MLN mesenteric lymph nodes; Mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue; PP Peyer’s patches; RAR retinoic acid receptor; REF reference; SMG submaxillary salivary gland; TGF-β1 transforming growth factor β1; pIgR polymeric immunoglobulin receptor.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cacao / chemistry*
  • Chocolate
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Immunoglobulin A / biosynthesis*
  • Immunoglobulin M / biosynthesis*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Lymph Nodes / drug effects
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism
  • Mesentery
  • Peyer's Patches / metabolism
  • Plant Preparations / pharmacology*
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology
  • Protein Biosynthesis / genetics
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Salivary Glands / drug effects
  • Salivary Glands / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Plant Preparations
  • Polyphenols