Immunostimulants, also known as immunostimulators, are substances (drugs and nutrients) that stimulate the immune system by inducing activation or increasing activity of any of its components. One notable example is the granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor.
There are two main categories of immunostimulants:
- Specific immunostimulants provide antigenic specificity in immune response, such as vaccines or any antigen.
- Non-specific immunostimulants act irrespective of antigenic specificity to augment immune response of other antigen or stimulate components of the immune system without antigenic specificity, such as adjuvants and non-specific immunostimulators.
Many endogenous substances are non-specific immunostimulators. For example, female sex hormones are known to stimulate both adaptive and innate immune responses. Some autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus strike women preferentially, and their onset often coincides with puberty. Other hormones appear to regulate the immune system as well, most notably prolactin, growth hormone and vitamin D.
Some publications point towards the effect of deoxycholic acid (DCA) as an immunostimulant of the unspecific immune system, activating its main actors, the macrophages. According to these publications, a sufficient amount of DCA in the human body corresponds to a good immune reaction of the unspecific immune system.
- Deoxycholic acid, a stimulator of macrophages
- Macrokine, a stimulator of macrophages
- Imiquimod and resiquimod, activate immune cells through the toll-like receptor 7
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- Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology journal
- Immunostimulants at the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
- Deoxycholic acid as immunostimulant
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