the virtues of cabbage and broccoli

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Written by Doug Hampton

Inserm, which conducted the study, emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet in this context of skin allergies.

Tuesday, May 16, Inserm unveiled the results of a study relayed by the journal eLife. Conducted jointly with the Institut Curie, it indicates that the presence in the diet of cabbage or broccoli would make it possible to limit the intensity of skin allergies.

Initially, the two institutes observed, in animal models, that the absence of compounds present in certain vegetables could aggravate skin allergies.

A particular molecule

What scientists and doctors have known for a long time is that skin allergies result from an inappropriate immune response to compounds found in the environment. Moreover, their degree of severity depends on different factors, including diet.

In this case, the researchers wanted to look at food compounds that act on a molecule in the body, called “aromatic hydrocarbon receptor” (AHR). Compounds, specifically nutrients, found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli.

No nutrients? Increase in inflammation

Scientists have further demonstrated that the absence of the nutrients in question in mice was linked to an increase in inflammation in the skin and a worsening of the allergy.

But this was not the case for mice fed with these compounds. But how to explain the mechanisms induced by these nutrients?

Langerhans cells

When nutrients are not present, scientists have observed the overproduction of a molecule, called TGF-beta, in the epidermis of mice. It interferes with the normal functioning of a family of immune cells, the so-called Langerhans cells. These are only found in the skin and operate as a “modulator of cutaneous immune responses”.

Then the researchers demonstrated that compounds that activated the AHR receptor also played a role in the production of TGF-beta in human skin cells. Élodie Segura, Inserm researcher who led this study at Institut Curie, and quoted in a press release, summarizes:

Our results suggest that an unbalanced diet may increase allergic skin reactions in humans.

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