Bioactive food components that enhance gammadelta T cell function may play a role in cancer prevention

UMMS Affiliation

Food Science and Human Nutrition; Department of Pathology

Publication Date


Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Gammadelta T cells are found largely within the epithelium and recognize antigens differently than their alphabeta T cell counterparts. TCR delta-/- knock out mice exhibit a rapid tumor onset, along with increased tumor incidence. Although limited, research demonstrates that nutrients and bioactive food components can influence gammadelta T cell cytotoxicity, cytokine secretion, and proliferative capacity, and the results are nonetheless intriguing. Among other functions, gammadelta T cells play a role in immunosurveillance against malignant cells, as shown by the T cell receptor (TCR)delta-/- knock out mice that exhibit a rapid tumor onset and increased tumor incidence. Some common dietary modifiers of gammadelta T cell numbers or activity are apple condensed tannins, dietary nucleotides, fatty acids, and dietary alkylamines. A recent clinical study demonstrated that ingesting a fruit and vegetable juice concentrate increased the number of circulating gammadelta T cells. Clinical studies also document that the oral consumption of a tea component, L-theanine, enhances gammadelta T cell proliferation and interferon-gamma secretion. The significance of these studies awaits additional examination of the influence of exposures and duration on these and other food components. Adoptive transfer and TCRdelta-/- knock out mice models should be used more extensively to determine the physiological impact of the number and activity of these cells as a function of dietary component exposures. While clarifying the diet and gammadelta T interrelationship may not be simple, the societal implications are enormous.

DOI of Published Version



J Nutr. 2008 Jan;138(1):1-4.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of nutrition

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID