Effect of a punica granatum enriched diet on immunocompetence in Rhinella marina

Academic Article


  • Direct ingestion of plant materials has been shown to have immunomodulatory effects on a variety of herbivores. Studies have also shown that compounds ingested indirectly by predators through prey items can affect the general physiology of the ingesting organism. Relatively little data exists, however, concerning the modulation of a predator's immune system via compounds obtained indirectly through prey. In this study, we sought to determine if the immune-stimulating properties of Punica granatum (pomegranate) could be conveyed from a prey organism, Acheta domestica, to a predator, Rhinella marina, through diet specialization. Experimental crickets were fed a diet of agar supplemented with 10mg/mL of lyophilized, powdered, whole pomegranate while control crickets were fed unadulterated agar. Experimental toads consumed a diet consisting of crickets fed the pomegranate-enriched diet, while control toads consumed a diet consisting of crickets fed the standard agar diet. Blood samples were taken weekly and leukocyte profiles and neutrophil phagocytic activity were determined for all toads over an 8-week period. Complement activity was measured at 6 weeks. Toads fed the pomegranate-enriched diet showed altered leukocyte profiles as evidenced by an increase in circulating eosinophil number and a decrease in the number of circulating lymphocytes, monocytes, and basophils as compared to controls, indicating an immunomodulatory effect of the pomegranate-enhanced diet. These results suggest that pomegranate-derived immunomodulatory compounds can be transferred from prey to predator, and suggests that the flora in the environment where insectivores forage could have a significant effect on the physiology of the animal. J. Exp. Zool. 321A: 316-323, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 12788348
  • Author List

  • Parker AN; Ward CK; Estes NR
  • Start Page

  • 316
  • End Page

  • 323
  • Volume

  • 321
  • Issue

  • 6