High consumption of red and processed meat is commonly associated with increased cancer risk, particularly colorectal cancer. Antibodies against the red meat-derived carbohydrate N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc) exacerbate cancer in “human-like” mice. Human anti-Neu5Gc IgG and red meat are both independently proposed to increase cancer risk, yet how diet affects these antibodies is largely unknown..
..We found that high-Neu5Gc diet, gender, and age affect the specificity, levels, and repertoires of anti-Neu5Gc IgG immune responses, but not their affinity. Men consumed more Neu5Gc than women, mostly from red meat (p = 0.0015), and exhibited higher overall serum anti-Neu5Gc IgG levels by ELISA (3.94 ng/μl versus 2.22 ng/μl, respectively; p = 0.039).
Detailed glycan microarray analysis against 56 different glycans revealed high Neu5Gc-specificity with increased anti-Neu5Gc IgG and altered repertoires, associated with higher consumption of Neu5Gc from red meat and cow dairy. Affinity purification of serum anti-Neu5Gc antibodies revealed increased levels and biased array repertoire patterns, without an increase in antibody affinity, in individuals consuming higher Neu5Gc levels. Furthermore, in a high-meat diet, antibody diversity patterns on glycan microarrays shifted towards Neu5Gcα3-linked glycans, increasing the α3/α6-glycans ratio score.
We found a clear link between the levels and repertoire of serum anti-Neu5Gc IgG and Neu5Gc intake from red meat and dairy. These precise rational methodologies allowed to develop a Gcemic index to simplify the assessment of Neu5Gc in foods that could potentially be adapted for dietary recommendations to reduce cancer risk.