Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10397/6556
Title: The effects of β-glucan on human immune and cancer cells
Authors: Chan, GCF
Chan, WK
Sze, MYD
Keywords: Cell proliferation
Cell survival
Immune system
Immunologic factors
Issue Date: 10-Jun-2009
Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.
Source: Journal of hematology & oncology, 10 June 2009, v, 2, 25, p. 1-11 How to cite?
Journal: Journal of hematology & oncology 
Abstract: Non-prescriptional use of medicinal herbs among cancer patients is common around the world. The alleged anti-cancer effects of most herbal extracts are mainly based on studies derived from in vitro or in vivo animal experiments. The current information suggests that these herbal extracts exert their biological effect either through cytotoxic or immunomodulatory mechanisms. One of the active compounds responsible for the immune effects of herbal products is in the form of complex polysaccharides known as β-glucans. β-glucans are ubiquitously found in both bacterial or fungal cell walls and have been implicated in the initiation of anti-microbial immune response. Based on in vitro studies, β-glucans act on several immune receptors including Dectin-1, complement receptor (CR3) and TLR-2/6 and trigger a group of immune cells including macrophages, neutrophils, monocytes, natural killer cells and dendritic cells. As a consequence, both innate and adaptive response can be modulated by β-glucans and they can also enhance opsonic and non-opsonic phagocytosis. In animal studies, after oral administration, the specific backbone 1→3 linear β-glycosidic chain of β-glucans cannot be digested. Most β-glucans enter the proximal small intestine and some are captured by the macrophages. They are internalized and fragmented within the cells, then transported by the macrophages to the marrow and endothelial reticular system. The small β-glucans fragments are eventually released by the macrophages and taken up by other immune cells leading to various immune responses. However, β-glucans of different sizes and branching patterns may have significantly variable immune potency. Careful selection of appropriate β-glucans is essential if we wish to investigate the effects of β-glucans clinically. So far, no good quality clinical trial data is available on assessing the effectiveness of purified β-glucans among cancer patients. Future effort should direct at performing well-designed clinical trials to verify the actual clinical efficacy of β-glucans or β-glucans containing compounds.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10397/6556
ISSN: 1756-8722
DOI: 10.1186/1756-8722-2-25
Rights: © 2009 Chan et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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