In this study, we investigated changes in the structural and immunological features of polysaccharides (S1-PLE0, S2-PLE0, and S3-PLE0) extracted from persimmon leaves at three different growth stages. Physicochemical analyses revealed that their chemical compositions, molecular weight distributions, and linkage types differed. High-performance size-exclusion chromatograms showed that the molecular weights of the polysaccharides increased during successive growth stages. In addition, seasonal variation of persimmon leaves affected the sugar compositions and glycosidic linkages in the polysaccharides. S2-PLE0 was composed of comparatively more galactose, arabinose, rhamnose, xylose, and galacturonic acid, showing the presence of β-glucopyranoside linkages. Significant differences also occurred in their immunostimulatory effects on RAW264.7 macrophages, with respect to which their activities could be ordered as S2-PLE0 > S3-PLE0 > S1-PLE0. Evidently, S2-PLE0 showed the greatest immunostimulatory activity by enhancing the phagocytic capacity and promoting nitric oxide (NO) and cytokines secretion through the upregulation of their gene expression in macrophages. These results suggest that differences in the structural features of polysaccharides according to the different maturity of persimmon leaves might impact their immunostimulatory properties. The results also provide a basis for optimizing persimmon leaf cultivation strategies for food and medical uses of the polysaccharides.
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