COVID-19 Research – Learn More

Questions? Call Us 631.977.7300

Shopping cart

Historic Firsts in Whey Protein, Glutathione, and the Immune System


Dr. Bounous developed the method for the production of a specific whey protein which was given the proprietary name Immunocal. It became the standard by which all other whey products eventually had to be measured.

1981/1988: Gustavo Bounous and colleagues were the first to discover the effect of a whey protein on the immune system.

J. Infect Dis. 1981 Sept;144:281.  Pubmed PMID: 7024433
Influence of dietary lactalbumin hydrolysate on the immune system of mice and resistance to salmonellosis.
Bounous G, Stevenson MM, Kongshavn PA.

Clin Invest Med. 1988 Aug;11:271-8.  Pubmed PMID: 3168349
The immunoenhancing property of dietary whey protein concentrate.

Bounous G, Kongshavn PA, Gold P.
“The plaque-forming cell response to sheep red blood cells was found to be enhanced in mice fed a formula diet containing 20g lactalbumin/100 g diet”. (The humoral immune response eliminates bacteria in the body).


Dr. Dröge was the first to describe the effect of glutathione on the immune response of a living organism (1986) and to discover the abnormally low cysteine and glutathione levels in HIV patients (1988-1989). In a series of clinical studies, Dr. Dröge investigated the effects of cysteine supplementation on the immune system in healthy humans and HIV patients and on weight loss in cachectic cancer patients.

1986: Wulf Dröge and colleagues were the first to discover the effect of glutathione on the immune system in a living organism.

Immunobiology. 1986 Aug;172:151-6.  Pubmed PMID: 3490430
Glutathione augments the activation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes in vivo.

Dröge W, Pottmeyer-Gerber C, Schmidt H, Nick S.
“The activation of T lymphocytes in vivo was found to be augmented by glutathione”. (Cytotoxic T cells eliminate virus-infected cells in the body, and T cells help B cells to produce a humoral immune response).

1989: Wulf Dröge and colleagues were the first to discover that HIV-infected patients have abnormally low cysteine and glutathione levels.

Biol Chem Hoppe Seyler. 1989 Feb;370:101-8.  Pubmed PMID: 2784973

Low concentrations of acid-soluble thiol (cysteine) in the blood plasma of HIV-1 infected patients.
Eck HP, Gmünder H, Hartmann M, Petzoldt D, Daniel V, Dröge W.
“Blood plasma from HIV-1-infected persons contains decreased cysteine concentrations. The intracellular glutathione concentration in peripheral blood-mononuclear cells (PBMC) and monocytes from HIV positive persons are also significantly decreased”.


In the mid-1970’s Dr. Kongshavn began collaboration initiated by Dr. Gustavo Bounous to research the influence of various dietary proteins on immune responsiveness. They published their first paper on this research in 1978. This work led to the discovery of the particular whey protein concentrate that regulated glutathione levels and promoted immune enhancing activity: IMMUNOCAL.

1989: Gustavo Bounous and colleagues were the first to discover that glutathione plays a role in the effect of whey protein on the immune system.

Clin Invest Med. 1989 June;12:154-61.  Pubmed PMID: 2743633

Immunoenhancing property of dietary whey protein in mice: role of glutathione.
Bounous G, Batist G, Gold P.
“Enhancement of host humoral immune response is associated with sustained production of splenic glutathione in whey protein fed mice”.

1998: Wulf Dröge and colleagues were the first to discover the age-related decrease in the plasma concentration of cysteine, the limiting precursor of glutathione.

Blood. 1998 July; 92:59-67.  Pubmed PMID: 9639500

The Redox State as a Correlate of Senescence and Wasting and as a Target for Therapeutic Intervention
Hack V, Breitkreutz R, Kinscherf R, Rörer H,
Bartsch P, Taut F, Benner A and Dröge W.

“Our study showed a decrease in the plasma thiol level indicative of an age-dependent shift to a more oxidized condition”.

2008: Gustavo Bounous & Wulf Dröge and colleagues were the first to show in a placebo controlled clinical trial the health benefits of an undenatured whey protein isolate in cancer patients.

Antiox. & Redox Signaling. 2008. Feb;10:395-402.
 Pubmed PMID: 18158761
Cysteine-Rich Protein Reverses Weight Loss in Lung Cancer Patients Receiving Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy
Tozer RG, Tai P, Falconer W, Ducruet T,
Karabadjian A, Bounous G, Molson JH, Dröge W.

“The patients treated with the cysteine-rich protein had a mean increase of 2.5% body weight, whereas casein-treated patients lost 2.6%”.

Top of Page