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2 . 2024

Impact of black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae biomass on the immune status of rats


The improvement of the novel foods’ safety assessment algorithms is currently one of the food hygiene significant areas. Within the studying of Hermetia illucens insects’ effect, the standard in vivo allergological research integrated in the protocol of medical and biological evaluation of genetically modified food has been used. The protocol was supplemented with cytokine profile indicators and pathomorphologic characteristics of immunocompetent organs’ lymphoid tissue.

The purpose of the research was to study the effect of black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae biomass on the rats’ immune status in the experiment on the induced anaphylactic shock model.

Material and methods. The effect of black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae biomass was studied in a 29-day experiment on growing (43–72 days of life) male Wistar rats fed with Hermetia illucens biomass – main group (n=29) and semi-synthetic casein diet – control group (n=29). The complex assessment of allergenic potential of Hermetia illucens biomass was carried out in the experiment on the induced anaphylactic shock model in Wistar rats. An expanded pool of immune status indicators was studied including active anaphylactic shock severity (lethality, number of severe anaphylaxis reactions, anaphylactic index); cytokine profile (content of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines, as well as regulators of cellular and humoral immune response); IgG1 and IgG4 level before and after administration of ovalbumin permissive dose (4 mg/kg b.w.). In addition to this pathomorphologic characteristics of lymphoid tissue of the main immunocompetent organs (thymus, spleen, Payer’s patches) have been obtained.

Results. The significant systemic anaphylaxis reaction decrease in the main group has been shown. Comparative assessment of the serum cytokines (GM-CSF, IFN-γ, IL-10, IL-12(p70), IL-13, IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, TNF-α) as well as the level of immunoglobulins of the IgG1, IgG4 class before and after administration of ovalbumin permissive dose did not reveal significant differences in rats of the control and main groups. In the main group, there was a decrease in blood serum proallergic cytokines: the level of IL-4 reduced by 1.3 fold, IL-10 – 1.1 and IL-13 – 1.2 fold (p>0.05), and in animals with mild anaphylactic reaction – by 1.8, 1.4 and 1.4 times, respectively (p>0.05). The morphologic studies of the immune system organs showed no intergroup differences.

Conclusion. Thus, allergological studies of black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae in the experiment with the use of systemic anaphylaxis rat model and determination of immune status indicators (anaphylactic shock severity, cytokine profile, IgG1 and IgG4 level, morphologic structure of immunocompetent organs) did not reveal any allergenic effect of the studied product.

Keywords:novel foods; black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae biomass; allergological studies; cytokine profile; immunoglobulins; morphology of immunocompetent organs; anaphylaxis

Contribution. Concept and design of the study – Tyshko N.V., Gmoshinski I.V.; collecting and processing data – Trebukh M.D., Nikitin N.S.; statistical data processing – Trebukh M.D.; text writing – Trebukh M.D., Tyshko N.V., Sadykova E.O., Nikitin N.S.; editing, approval of the final version of the article, responsibility for the integrity of all parts of the article – all authors.

Funding. The research was funded by the Russian Science Foundation (Project No. 20-16-00083-П),

Conflict of interest. The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Acknowledgement. The authors would like to sincerely thank the staffs of the Laboratory of Immunology of the Federal Research Centre of Nutrition, Biotechnology and Food Safety: Doctor of Medicine, Professor, Chief Specialist Rieger N.A. and Candidate of Biological Sciences, Researcher Timonin A.N. for the help in carrying out the research.

For citation: Trebukh M.D., Tyshko N.V., Sadykova E.O., Nikitin N.S., Gmoshinski I.V. Impact of black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae biomass on the immune status of rats. Voprosy pitaniia [Problems of Nutrition]. 2024; 93 (2): 41–51. DOI: (in Russian)


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Viktor A. Tutelyan
Full Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Scientific Director of the Federal Research Centre of Nutrition, Biotechnology and Food Safety (Moscow, Russia)

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