Stimulation of Dendritic Cell Maturation and Induction of Apoptosis in Leukemia Cells by a Heat-stable Extract from Azuki bean (Vigna angularis), a Promising Immunopotentiating Food and Dietary Supplement for Cancer Prevention


Non-toxic stimulation of dendritic cells (DCs), which are central immunomodulators, may aid the prevention of cancer. Furthermore, induction of apoptosis in cancer cells by anticancer agents contributes to the induction of DC maturation. We previously reported that extracts from Pinus parviflora Sieb. et Zucc pine cone and Mucuna seed induce differentiation of mouse bone marrow cells into mature dendritic cells and also induce apoptosis in various human cancer cell lines. In the present study, we screened 31 kinds of edible beans with biological activity similar to that of extracts from pine cone and Mucuna and found that the heat-stable extract from azuki bean (Vigna angula) stimulated differentiation of bone marrow cells into immature DCs with the greatest efficacy. The level of IL-6 produced by sequential treatment of DCs with azuki extract and lipopolysaccharide was the highest among the examined beans. Azuki extract also inhibited the growth of human leukemia U937 cells, leading to induction of apoptosis. These results suggest that azuki bean and its extract are immunopotentiating foods that can be used as a dietary supplement for cancer prevention and immunotherapy.