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Medicina is published by MDPI from Volume 54 Issue 1 (2018). Previous articles were published by another publisher in Open Access under a CC-BY (or CC-BY-NC-ND) licence, and they are hosted by MDPI on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Lithuanian Medical Association, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, and Vilnius University.
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Effects of ß-glucans on the immune system

Dalia Akramienė
Anatolijus Kondrotas
Janina Didžiapetrienė
2 and
Egidijus Kėvelaitis
Department of Physiology, Kaunas University of Medicine
Institute of Oncology, Vilnius University, Lithuania
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Medicina 2007, 43(8), 597;
Submission received: 16 January 2007 / Accepted: 6 August 2007 / Published: 11 August 2007


ß-Glucans are naturally occurring polysaccharides. These glucose polymers are constituents of the cell wall of certain pathogenic bacteria and fungi. The healing and immunostimulating properties of mushrooms have been known for thousands of years in the Eastern countries. These mushrooms contain biologically active polysaccharides that mostly belong to group of ß-glucans. These substances increase host immune defense by activating complement system, enhancing macrophages and natural killer cell function. The induction of cellular responses by mushroom and other ß-glucans is likely to involve their specific interaction with several cell surface receptors, as complement receptor 3 (CR3; CD11b/CD18), lactosylceramide, selected scavenger receptors, and dectin-1 (ßGR). ß-Glucans also show anticarcinogenic activity. They can prevent oncogenesis due to the protective effect against potent genotoxic carcinogens. As immunostimulating agent, which acts through the activation of macrophages and NK cell cytotoxicity, ß-glucan can inhibit tumor growth in promotion stage too. Antiangiogenesis can be one of the pathways through which ß-glucans can reduce tumor proliferation, prevent tumor metastasis. ß-Glucan as adjuvant to cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy demonstrated the positive role in the restoration of hematopiesis following by bone marrow injury. Immunotherapy using monoclonal antibodies is a novel strategy of cancer treatment. These antibodies activate complement system and opsonize tumor cells with iC3b fragment. In contrast to microorganisms, tumor cells, as well as other host cells, lack ß-glucan as a surface component and cannot trigger complement receptor 3-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and initiate tumor-killing activity. This mechanism could be induced in the presence of ß-glucans.
Keywords: ß-glucan; anticarcinogenic activity; monoclonal antibodies; complement receptor ß-glucan; anticarcinogenic activity; monoclonal antibodies; complement receptor

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MDPI and ACS Style

Akramienė, D.; Kondrotas, A.; Didžiapetrienė, J.; Kėvelaitis, E. Effects of ß-glucans on the immune system. Medicina 2007, 43, 597.

AMA Style

Akramienė D, Kondrotas A, Didžiapetrienė J, Kėvelaitis E. Effects of ß-glucans on the immune system. Medicina. 2007; 43(8):597.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Akramienė, Dalia, Anatolijus Kondrotas, Janina Didžiapetrienė, and Egidijus Kėvelaitis. 2007. "Effects of ß-glucans on the immune system" Medicina 43, no. 8: 597.

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