2012 Volume 35 Issue 2 Pages 178-183
Kefir is a traditional fermented milk beverage produced by kefir grains in the Caucasian countries. Kefiran produced by Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens in kefir grains is an exopolysaccharide having a repeating structure with glucose and galactose residues in the chain sequence and has been suggested to exert many health-promoting effects such as immunomodulatory, hypotensive, hypocholesterolemic activities. Here we investigated the effects of kefiran on mast cell activation induced by antigen. Pretreatment with kefiran significantly inhibited antigen-induced Ca2+ mobilization, degranulation, and tumor necrosis factor-α production in bone marrow-derived mast cells (BMMCs) in a dose-dependent manner. The phosphorylation of Akt, glycogen synthase kinase 3β, and extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) after antigen stimulation was also suppressed by pretreatment of BMMCs with kefiran. These findings indicate that kefiran suppresses mast cell degranulation and cytokine production by inhibiting the Akt and ERKs pathways, suggesting an anti-inflammatory effect for kefiran.