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.


  • Classification 1
    • Non-specific 1.1
  • See also 2
    • General 2.1
    • Endogenous immunostimulants 2.2
    • Synthetic immunostimulants 2.3
  • References 3
  • External links 4


There are two main categories of immunostimulants:[1]

  1. Specific immunostimulants provide antigenic specificity in immune response, such as vaccines or any antigen.
  2. 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[2] and innate immune responses.[3] 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.[4][5]

Some publications point towards the effect of deoxycholic acid (DCA) as an immunostimulant[6][7][8] of the non-specific 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 non-specific immune system.

See also


Endogenous immunostimulants

Synthetic immunostimulants


  1. ^ Kumar, S; Gupta P; Sharma S; Kumar D (2011). "A review on immunostimulatory plants". Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine 9 (2): 117–128.  
  2. ^ Wira, CR; Crane-Godreau M; Grant K (2004). "Endocrine regulation of the mucosal immune system in the female reproductive tract". In In: Ogra PL, Mestecky J, Lamm ME, Strober W, McGhee JR, Bienenstock J (eds.). Mucosal Immunology. San Francisco: Elsevier.  
  3. ^ Lang, TJ (2004). "Estrogen as an immunomodulator". Clin Immunol 113 (3): 224–230.  
    Moriyama, A; Shimoya K; Ogata I; et al. (1999). "Secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) concentrations in cervical mucus of women with normal menstrual cycle". Molecular Human Reproduction 5 (7): 656–661. Cutolo, M; Sulli A; Capellino S; Villaggio B; Montagna P; Seriolo B; Straub RH (2004). "Sex hormones influence on the immune system: basic and clinical aspects in autoimmunity". Lupus 13 (9): 635–638.  
    King, AE; Critchley HOD; Kelly RW (2000). "Presence of secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor in human endometrium and first trimester decidua suggests an antibacterial role". Molecular Human Reproduction 6 (2): 191–196.  

  4. ^ Dorshkind, K; Horseman ND (2000). "The Roles of Prolactin, Growth Hormone, Insulin-Like Growth Factor-I, and Thyroid Hormones in Lymphocyte Development and Function: Insights from Genetic Models of Hormones and Hormone Receptor Deficiency". Endocrine Reviews 21 (3): 292–312.  
  5. ^ Nagpal, Sunil; Songqing Naand; Radhakrishnan Rathnachalam (2005). "Noncalcemic Actions of Vitamin D Receptor Ligands". Endocrine Reviews 26 (5): 662–687.  
  6. ^ Vlcek, B; Reif, A; Seidlová, B (1971). "Evidence of the participation of deoxycholate in cancer immunity". Zeitschrift für Naturforschung B 26 (5): 419–24.  
  7. ^ Vlček, B (1972). "Potentiation of the immune response with DCA". Prakt. Lekar (in Česky) 52: 326–330. 
  8. ^ Chyle, M; Chyle, P (1982). "Regulation of the immune response with DCA". Sbornik lek. (in Česky) 84: 212–218.  (English summary)

External links

  • Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology journal
  • Immunostimulants at the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
  • Deoxycholic acid as immunostimulant