Division of Nutritional Sciences
Elvira de Mejia

Elvira de Mejia

Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
228 E R Madigan Laboratory
1201 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, IL 61801
(217) 244-3196


Ph.D., 1990, National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico City, Mexico
M.Sc., 1976, University of California, Davis
B.S., 1972, National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico City, Mexico

Research Interests

Molecular mechanisms of chemoprevention of bioactive food components, mainly proteins and flavonoids, and their safety.

We study food components with health benefits; analysis, characterization and mechanism of action of antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic compounds in foods (legumes, oilseeds and vegetables). We currently are working with bioactive proteins in different legumes. Our research group investigates the role of processing on the presence, concentration and physicochemical characteristics of proteins with biological potential against transformed human cells as well as their safety, such as allergenic potential. We also are studying the health benefits of tea, in particular the molecular mechanisms underlying the biological effects of ethnic teas used in folk medicine to combat several disorders, including cancer. This scientific study will introduce new materials to improve human health.

Honors and Awards

North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Teacher Fellow award.
Winner of the McCormick Science Institute Research Award
Campus Distinguished Promotion Award
University Scholar, University of Illinois
Fellow of the United Nations University
Cochran Scholar, USDA
Selected by the Organization of American States as leader for the development of research programs to improve the nutritional quality and production of beans in the Central part of Mexico
Institute of Food Technology, honorific mention in International Research Competition
Fellow of the Agency for International Development
General Foods Industry award
Academic awards given by the President of the University of Queretaro for excellence in teaching and for a successful work performance as Head of the graduate group in Food Science
Various scientific recognitions awarded by the Mexican Government and Foundations for her scientific contributions to Food Toxicology
Fellow of the Mexican Academy of Sciences

Representative Publications

Bower, A., Marquez, S., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2013. The health benefits of selected culinary herbs and spices found in the traditional Mediterranean diet. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. In Press. ID BFSN-2013-1009.
Johnson, J. L. Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2013. Flavonoid apigenin modified gene expression associated with inflammation and cancer and induced apoptosis in BxPC-3 human pancreatic cancer cells through inhibition of GSK-3β/NF-κB signaling cascade. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2013, 00,1–16, DOI 10.1002/mnfr.201300307.
Fan, J., Johnson, M. H. Lila, M. A., Yousef, G., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2013. Berry and citrus phenolic compounds inhibit dipeptidyl peptidase IV, implications in diabetes management. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Hindawi Publishing Corporation. Volume 2013, Article ID 479505, 13 pages, http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/479505.
Puangpraphant, S., Dia, V. P. Gonzalez de Mejia, E. Garcia, G., Berhow, M. A. Wallig, M. A. 2013. Yerba mate tea and mate saponins prevented azoxymethane-induced inflammation of rat colon through suppression of NF-κB p65ser311 signaling via IκB-α and GSK-3β reduced phosphorylation. BioFactors. International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 39(4):430-440.
Johnson, J. L. Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2013. Interactions between dietary flavonoids apigenin or luteolin and chemotherapeutic drugs to potentiate anti-proliferative effect on human pancreatic cancer cells, in vitro. Food Chem Toxicol. 60: 83–91.
Johnson, M. H. Gonzalez de Mejia, Elvira, Lila, M. A., Yousef, G. G. 2013. Anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins from blueberry-blackberry fermented beverages inhibit markers of inflammation and carbohydrate utilization. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 57: 1182–1197.
Dia, V.P., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2013. Potential of lunasin orally-administered in comparison to intraperitoneal injection to inhibit colon cancer metastasis in vivo. Journal of Cancer Therapy (special issue on colon cancer) 4, 34-43.
Cavazos, A., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2013. Identification of bioactive peptides from cereal storage proteins and their potential role in prevention of chronic diseases. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 12 (4): 364–380.
Dia, V. P. Frankland-Searby, S., Laso del Hierro, F., Garcia, G., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2013. Structural property of soybean lunasin and development of a method of quantifying lunasin in plasma using an optimized immunoassay protocol. Food Chem. 138: 334-341.
Pabona, J. M. P. Dave, B., Su, Y., Montales M. T. E., de Lumen, B. O. de Mejia, E. G. Rahal, O. M., Simmen, R. C.M. 2013. The soybean peptide lunasin promotes apoptosis of mammary epithelial cells via induction of tumor suppressor PTEN: similarities and distinct actions from soy isoflavone genistein. Genes & Nutr. 8 (1): 79-90.
Fernandez-Raudales D., Hoeflinger J., Bringe, N. A. Cox, S. B., Dowd, S. E., Miller, M. J. Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2012. Consumption of different soymilk formulations differentially affects the gut microbiomes of overweight and obese men. Gut Microbes 3 (6): 490-500.
Velarde-Salcedo, A. J., Barrera-Pacheco, A., Lara-González, S., Montero-Morán, G. M., Díaz-Gois, A., González de Mejia, E., Barba de la Rosa, A. P. 2013. In vitro inhibition of dipeptidyl peptidase IV by peptides derived from the hydrolysis of amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus L.) proteins. Food Chem. 136: 758–764.
Dia, V. P. Gomez, T., Vernaza, G., Berhow, M., Chang, Y. K., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2012. Bowman-Birk and Kunitz protease inhibitors among anti-nutrients and bioactives modified by germination and hydrolysis in Brazilian soybean cultivar BRS 133. J. Agric. Food Chem. 60, 7886−7894.
Vernaza, M.G., Dia, V., Gonzalez de Mejia, E., Chang, Y.K. 2012. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of germinated and hydrolyzed Brazilian soybean flours. Food Chem. 134, 2217–2225.
Cavazos, A. Morales, E., Dia, V. P., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2012. Analysis of Lunasin in commercial soybean products and an improved method of purification. J Food Sc. 77 (5): C539-C545.
Fernandez-Raudales, D., Diaz-Rios, L. K. Lotton, J., Chapman-Novakofski K., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2012. Effect of beverages with different protein profiles on postprandial blood glucose response in overweight and obese men. J Diabetes Mellitus. 2, 40-46.
Johnson, M. H., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2012.Comparison of chemical composition and antioxidant capacity of commercially available blueberry and blackberry wines in Illinois. J Food Sc. 71: 141-148.
Dia, V. P., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2011. Differential gene expression of RAW 264.7 macrophages in response to the RGD peptide lunasin with and without lipopolysaccharide stimulation Peptides. 32: 1979–1988.
Dia, V. P., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2011. Lunasin potentiates the effect of oxaliplatin preventing outgrowth of colon cancer metastasis, binds to α5β1 integrin and suppresses FAK/ERK/NF-B signaling. Cancer Letters. 313: 167–180.
Johnson, M. H., Lucius, A., Meyer, T., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2011. Cultivar Evaluation and Effect of Fermentation on Antioxidant Capacity and in vitro Inhibition of α-amylase and α-glucosidase by Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corombosum). J. Agric. Food Chem. 59, 8923–8930.
González de Mejía E., Ramírez-Mares M. V. 2011. Ardisia: health-promoting properties and toxicity of phytochemicals and extracts. Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods 21(9): 667–674.
Puangpraphant, S., Berhow, M., Vermillion, K., Potts, G., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2011. Dicaffeoylquinic acids in Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis St. Hilaire) inhibit NF-κB nucleus translocation in macrophages and induce apoptosis by activating caspases-8 and -3 in human colon cancer cells. Mol Nutr Food Res.55, 1509–1522.
Johnson, J. L. Rupasinghe, S. G., Stefani, F., Schuler M. A. Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2011. Citrus flavonoids luteolin, apigenin and quercetin inhibit GSK-3β enzymatic activity by lowering the interaction energy within the binding cavity. J. Med. Food. 14 (4) 2011, 325–333.
Oseguera-Toledo, M. E., Gonzalez de Mejia, E., Dia, V.P., Amaya-Llano, S.L. 2011. Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) hydrolysates inhibit inflammation in LPS-induced macrophages through suppression of NF-kB pathways. Food Chem. 127:1175–1185.
Dia, V. P., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2011.Lunasin induces apoptosis and modifies the expression of genes associated with extracellular matrix and cell adhesion in human metastatic colon cancer cells. Mol Nutr Food Res. 55, 623–634.
Johnson J., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2011. Dietary Factors and Pancreatic Cancer: The Role of Food Bioactive Compounds. Mol Nutr Food Res. 55, 58–73.
Puangpraphant, S., Berhow, M., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2011. Saponins purified from Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis St. Hilaire) leaves inhibit in vitro inflammation and induce caspase-3-dependent apoptosis in human colon cancer cells. Food Chem. 125:1171–1178.
Dia, V.P., Bringe, N., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2014. Peptides in pepsin-pancreatin hydrolysates in commercially available soy products that inhibit lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in macrophages. Food Chem. 152: 423–431.
Bower, A., Marquez, S., Gonzalez de Mejia, E. 2014. The health benefits of selected culinary herbs and spices found in the traditional Mediterranean diet. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. In Press. ID BFSN-2013-1009.
Montoya-Rodríguez, A., González de Mejía, E., Dia, V. P., Reyes-Moreno, C., Milán-Carrillo, J. 2014. Extrusion improved the anti-inflammatory effect of amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus) hydrolysates in LPS-induced human THP-1 macrophage-like and mouse RAW 264.7 macrophages by preventing activation of NF-κB signaling. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201300764.