Botanicals are rich in bioactive compounds, and some offer numerous beneficial effects to animal and human health when consumed. It is well known that phytochemicals in cranberries have anti-oxidative and antimicrobial activities. Recently, an increasing body of evidence has demonstrated that cranberry
phytochemicals may have potential benefits that promote healthy aging. Here, we use Caenorhabditis elegans as a model to show that water-soluble cranberry extract standardized to 4.0% proanthocyanidins (WCESP), a major component of
cranberries, can enhance host innate immunity to resist against Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae; wild type C6706 (O1 El Tor biotype)) infection. Supplementation of WCESP did not significantly alter the intestinal colonization of V. cholerae, but
upregulated the expression of C. elegans innate immune genes, such as clec-46, clec-71, fmo-2, pqn-5 and C23G10.1. Additionally, WCESP treatment did not affect the growth of V. cholerae and expression of the major bacterial virulence genes, and only slightly reduced bacterial colonization within C. elegans intestine. These findings indicate that the major components of WCESP, including proanthocyanidins (PACs), may play an important role in enhancing the host innate
immunity. Moreover, we engaged C. elegans mutants and identified that the p38 MAPK signaling, insulin/IGF-1 signaling (IIS), and HSF-1 play pivotal roles in the WCESP-mediated host immune response. Considering the level of conservation between the innate immune pathways of C. elegans and humans, the results of this study suggest that WCESP may also play an immunity-promoting role in higher order organisms.