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Consumption of cranberry polyphenols enhances human γδ-T cell proliferation and reduces the number of symptoms associated with colds and influenza: a randomized, placebo-controlled intervention study

Meri P Nantz1, Cheryl A Rowe1, Catherine Muller1, Rebecca Creasy1, James Colee2, Christina Khoo3 and Susan S Percival1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition, University of Florida, Box 110370, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA

2 Department of Statistics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA

3 Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., Lakeville, MA 02349, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:161  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-161

Published: 13 December 2013



Our main objective was to evaluate the ability of cranberry phytochemicals to modify immunity, specifically γδ-T cell proliferation, after daily consumption of a cranberry beverage, and its effect on health outcomes related to cold and influenza symptoms.


The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel intervention. Subjects drank a low calorie cranberry beverage (450 ml) made with a juice-derived, powdered cranberry fraction (n = 22) or a placebo beverage (n = 23), daily, for 10 wk. PBMC were cultured for six days with autologous serum and PHA-L stimulation. Cold and influenza symptoms were self-reported.


The proliferation index of γδ-T cells in culture was almost five times higher after 10 wk of cranberry beverage consumption (p <0.001). In the cranberry beverage group, the incidence of illness was not reduced, however significantly fewer symptoms of illness were reported (p = 0.031).


Consumption of the cranberry beverage modified the ex vivo proliferation of γδ-T cells. As these cells are located in the epithelium and serve as a first line of defense, improving their function may be related to reducing the number of symptoms associated with a cold and flu.

Trial registration Identifier: NCT01398150.

Cranberry; Proanthocyanidins; Immunity; γδ-T cell; NK cell