Wellmune WGP Reduces Immune Suppression

July 12, 2011

EAGAN, Minn. — A new clinical study indicates that Wellmune WGP®, a natural functional food ingredient, may enable both recreational and elite athletes to exercise longer and harder with less risk of immune system suppression that normally occurs following high intensity exercise.

“The effect of Wellmune WGP on LPS-stimulated IL-4 and IL-5 production suggests that leukocytes were primed for higher plasma cytokines that directly mediate innate and humoral dependent immune responses”

The effectiveness of the immune system drops sharply below its normal state two to six hours after strenuous exercise and then gradually recovers within 24 hours. “During this ‘open window’ period, the athlete is more susceptible to infection, which may result in lost training time as well as missed work or school,” said Brian McFarlin, Ph.D., FACSM, Associate Professor of Exercise Physiology, Nutrition, and Immunology in the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Houston.

Dr. McFarlin conducted the research that demonstrated that Wellmune WGP not only reduced the “open window” effect, but actually resulted in a higher level of immune responsiveness than the study subjects’ normal immune state. “Wellmune provided a greater degree of protection before and after exercise, as measured by monocyte concentrations and certain protective cytokine levels,” said Dr. McFarlin.

“Wellmune WGP may enable athletes to maintain a strenuous training program, avoid down time and ultimately enhance their overall athletic performance,” said Dr. McFarlin.

The research was presented today at the International Society of Exercise Immunology’s symposium on “Exercise and Immunity in Athletic Performance and a Healthy Life” at St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, United Kingdom. The research poster presentation is entitled, “The Effects of Yeast β-glucan Supplementation on Monocytes and Cytokine Response to Exercise.”

Study Design

The randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study involved 60 recreational athletes [31 women (age 22 ±5), 29 men (age 23 ±5)] engaged in sustained aerobic exercise. Following initial screening, study subjects were given either a placebo or 250 mg of Wellmune WGP daily for 10 days.

At the end of the period, the athletes rode an exercise bicycle for approximately one hour in the heat stress chamber at the Health and Human Performance lab at the University of Houston. Exercise conditions in the chamber were set at 38C (100F) and 45% relative humidity to create an environment that placed the athletes under physiological and psychological stress. The athletes were closely monitored during the exercise challenge to ensure their safety. Blood samples were drawn at day 0 and immediately before and after the exercise session and again two hours post exercise. The samples were analyzed for 25 immune system measurements.

Using a cross-over study design, the athletes next observed an eight-day “wash out” period during which no supplement was given to clear their bodies of any supplement effect. The study subjects then repeated the 10-day supplementation with the other test variable (Wellmune or placebo). At the end of the second supplementation period, the subjects then replicated their initial exercise regimen.

Study Results

Study subjects taking Wellmune WGP had statistically significant higher concentrations of monocytes in their blood compared with the blood samples while taking the placebo. The higher monocyte level was recorded immediately before and after exercise, as well as two hours post exercise.

Study participants also had higher levels of key cytokines (IL-2, IL-4, IL-5 and IFN gamma) following Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation when taking Wellmune WGP. LPS is derived from gram-negative bacteria and used to mimic a foreign challenge to stimulate an immune response. The data also showed higher levels of plasma cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-7, IL-8, IL-10 and IFN gamma) two hours after exercise when the subjects had supplemented with Wellmune. All of these results were statistically significant (p<0.05).

“The effect of Wellmune WGP on LPS-stimulated IL-4 and IL-5 production suggests that leukocytes were primed for higher plasma cytokines that directly mediate innate and humoral dependent immune responses,” said Dr. McFarlin. “Our lab has tested numerous compounds but Wellmune is the first to prevent alterations in monocyte and key cytokines following high intensity exercise.”

“These study results are not surprising given the beneficial effects of Wellmune WGP demonstrated in previous clinical trials involving marathoner runners, wildland fire fighters and individuals with high stress lifestyles,” said Don Cox, Ph.D., senior vice president, research and development, for Biothera, the manufacturer of Wellmune WGP.

About Wellmune WGP

Wellmune WGP is a natural carbohydrate that is clinically proven to prime key immune cells that keep the body healthy. This unique food, beverage and supplement ingredient is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) under U.S. FDA regulations. It is also patented, Kosher, Halal, non-allergenic and GMO-free. The ingredient is recipient of an IFT Innovation Award and a Frost & Sullivan Excellence in Research Award. Wellmune WGP is a product of Biothera, a U.S. biotechnology company dedicated to improving immune health. More information is available at