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Immunomodulatory activity of Humulus lupulus bitter acids fraction: Enhancement of natural killer cells function by NKp44 activating receptor stimulation

  • Authors: Salviati E.; Ciaglia E.; Sommella E.; Montella F.; Bertamino A.; Ostacolo C.; Parrino B.; Rubino R.; Vecchione C.; Puca A.; Novellino E.; Campiglia P.
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Type: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Humulus lupulus (Hop) contains numerous metabolites with anticancer potential. Despite this, their immunomodulatory activity, and in particular of bitter acids, is unknown. In this study, we demonstrated that a Hop pellet extract fraction containing bitter acids possesses immunomodulatory activity by enhancing Natural Killer (NK) cells function. After fractionation by semi-preparative Liquid Chromatography, three different fractions were obtained. The phytocomplex and the fractions were tested to verify the ability to modulate the NK compartment. Cytofluorimetric analysis revealed that a fraction containing bitter acids was able to up-regulate of NKG2D and NKp44 activating receptors. A further simplification yield a fraction mainly composed by Humulinones and Cohulupone derivatives, that at the concentration of 0.1 µg/mL induced selective activation of Nkp44 receptor and enhanced the cytolytic activity of NK cells against leukemia cell line K562. Those results point out the possible use of Hop bitter acids as natural immunostimulants and adjuvants in chemotherapy protocols.