Plant and human aquaporins: pathogenesis from gut to brain

Corn, soybean, spinach leaf, and tomato aquaporins have been shown to share homology with human aquaporin-4, which is abundantly expressed by brain astrocytic endfeet. Thus, antibodies formed against the dietary aquaporins may potentially cross-react with brain aquaporin, leading to blood-brain barrier permeability and setting the stage for neuroautoimmunity and neurodegeneration. Here, we review the role of aquaporins in plants and humans in maintaining a healthy organism and mechanisms by which dietary aquaporins may contribute to neurological disorders. We include clinical data on the correlation between four real-world, dietary aquaporin and five neurological tissue antibodies. Our findings showed the percent of neurological tissue antibody production increased with the number of positive food aquaporins. Of the four food aquaporins, spinach was the most common reactive. Of the neurological tissues assessed, tubulin was the most common positive. Patients with antibody reactivity to dietary aquaporins may consider abstaining from the aquaporin-containing food in order to prevent neurological tissue damage.

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