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Special Issue "Glucan: New Perspectives on Biochemistry and Application"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Vaclav Vetvicka

Department of Pathology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: glucan; natural immunomodulators; cancer

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Natural products, useful in preventing or treating various diseases, have been sought after throughout the history of humankind. Usually, the mechanisms of the actions remain unknown and the interest of both the public and professionals slowly evaporates. Even β(1–3),(1–6)-d-glucan, arguably the most studied natural immunomodulator, did not escape significant problems. One main problem in characterizing natural products also occurred with b-glucan: These substances usually represent a complex mixture of ingredients, each of which might contribute to biological activity. The considerable heterogeneity of all natural b-glucans obviously continues to be the cause of a series of mutually contradicting conclusions. Therefore, the proper and scientifically well-founded evaluation of b-glucan properties had to focus not only on biochemical characteristics and biological activities of certain isolated preparation but, first of all, on adequate isolation techniques which, in the end, gave us the purified material consisting of a reproducible specimen of pure b-glucan molecules. As a result, the only meaningful data has come from experiments based on sufficiently purified and chemically standardized b-glucan.

In general, it is clear that during decades of research, numerous types of b-glucan from various natural sources have been isolated and described. Unfortunately, not all of these glucans were created equal and b-glucans widely differ not only in physicochemical properties, but also in biological properties. The original studies of effects b-glucan has on the immune system focused on mice. Subsequent studies demonstrated that b-glucan possesses a strong immunostimulating activity in a wide variety of other species, including shrimp, fish, tortoises, chicken, rats, rabbits, sheep, pigs, cattle, and, last but not least, humans. Based on these results, it has been concluded that b-glucan represents a type of immunostimulant that is active over the broadest spectrum of biological species and that it is one of the first immunostimulants actively spanning an evolutionary spectrum. b-Glucan is therefore not only a biologically active polysaccharide with strong immunomodulating effects, but is also considered to be an evolutionary and very old stimulant of a variety of defense immune reactions.

Despite long-term interest and research, the mechanism of how b-glucan affected our health remained in many ways a mystery. Only in the last decade, extensive research by numerous scientific groups has helped to reveal the extraordinary effects that b-glucan exerts on various physiological and pathophysiological processes in of our body. Based on more than 15,000 studies about b-glucan, we can conclude that b-glucan from fungi (particularly yeast), and seaweed are well-known biologic response modifiers that function as immunostimulants against infectious diseases and cancer. Unlike most other natural products, properly purified b-glucan retain their bioactivity in spite of rather drastic isolation procedures. This allows us to characterize how b-glucan works on a cellular and molecular level.

Dr. Vaclav Vetvicka
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • b-glucan
  • immunity
  • cancer
  • infection
  • polysaccharides
  • treatment
  • disease
  • polysaccharide
  • natural
  • immunostimulator

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Behind Resveratrol Stabilization by Carboxymethylated (1,3/1,6)-β-d-Glucan: Does the Polyphenol Play a Role in Polymer Structural Organization?
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(9), 2006; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18092006
Received: 27 July 2017 / Revised: 11 September 2017 / Accepted: 15 September 2017 / Published: 19 September 2017
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Abstract
Resveratrol stability in solution can be improved by combining the polyphenol with carboxymethylated (1,3/1,6)-β-d-glucan (CM-glucan), a carbohydrate polymer widely used in the food and pharmaceutical industries. The present work was undertaken to elucidate the mechanism behind this stabilizing effect. The supramolecular
[...] Read more.
Resveratrol stability in solution can be improved by combining the polyphenol with carboxymethylated (1,3/1,6)-β-d-glucan (CM-glucan), a carbohydrate polymer widely used in the food and pharmaceutical industries. The present work was undertaken to elucidate the mechanism behind this stabilizing effect. The supramolecular structural, physico-chemical and morphological features of the CM-glucan/resveratrol complex have been studied under different physical and chemical stimuli by means of spectroscopic techniques, microscopy and physical methods such as UV-Visible spectroscopy (UV-Vis), spectrofluorimetry, Circular Dichroism (CD), Infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Our experimental data indicate that CM-glucan conformational organized architecture in aqueous solution is enhanced in the presence of resveratrol, suggesting that the polyphenol is able to confer a high degree of order to the polymer by a probable cooperative structural organization that results in a long term stabilization for the polyphenol. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glucan: New Perspectives on Biochemistry and Application)
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Open AccessArticle In Situ β-Glucan Fortification of Cereal-Based Matrices by Pediococcus parvulus 2.6: Technological Aspects and Prebiotic Potential
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(7), 1588; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18071588
Received: 23 May 2017 / Revised: 7 July 2017 / Accepted: 17 July 2017 / Published: 21 July 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1062 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Bacterial exopolysaccharides produced by lactic acid bacteria are of increasing interest in the food industry, since they might enhance the technological and functional properties of some edible matrices. In this work, Pediococcus parvulus 2.6, which produces an O2-substituted (1,3)-β-d-glucan exopolysaccharide only synthesised
[...] Read more.
Bacterial exopolysaccharides produced by lactic acid bacteria are of increasing interest in the food industry, since they might enhance the technological and functional properties of some edible matrices. In this work, Pediococcus parvulus 2.6, which produces an O2-substituted (1,3)-β-d-glucan exopolysaccharide only synthesised by bacteria, was proposed as a starter culture for the production of three cereal-based fermented foods. The obtained fermented matrices were naturally bio-fortified in microbial β-glucans, and used to investigate the prebiotic potential of the bacterial exopolysaccharide by analysing the impact on the survival of a probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum strain under starvation and gastrointestinal simulated conditions. All of the assays were performed by using as control of the P. parvulus 2.6’s performance, the isogenic β-glucan non-producing 2.6NR strain. Our results showed a differential capability of P. parvulus to ferment the cereal flours. During the fermentation step, the β-glucans produced were specifically quantified and their concentration correlated with an increased viscosity of the products. The survival of the model probiotic L. plantarum WCFS1 was improved by the presence of the bacterial β-glucans in oat and rice fermented foods under starvation conditions. The probiotic bacteria showed a significantly higher viability when submitted to a simulated intestinal stress in the oat matrix fermented by the 2.6 strain. Therefore, the cereal flours were a suitable substrate for in situ bio-fortification with the bacterial β-glucan, and these matrices could be used as carriers to enhance the beneficial properties of probiotic bacteria. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glucan: New Perspectives on Biochemistry and Application)
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Open AccessArticle Olive Mill Waste Enhances α-Glucan Content in the Edible Mushroom Pleurotus eryngii
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(7), 1564; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18071564
Received: 14 June 2017 / Revised: 12 July 2017 / Accepted: 13 July 2017 / Published: 18 July 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1808 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Mushroom polysaccharides are edible polymers that have numerous reported biological functions; the most common effects are attributed to β-glucans. In recent years, it became apparent that the less abundant α-glucans also possess potent effects in various health conditions. Here we explore several Pleurotus
[...] Read more.
Mushroom polysaccharides are edible polymers that have numerous reported biological functions; the most common effects are attributed to β-glucans. In recent years, it became apparent that the less abundant α-glucans also possess potent effects in various health conditions. Here we explore several Pleurotus species for their total, β and α-glucan content. Pleurotus eryngii was found to have the highest total glucan concentrations and the highest α-glucans proportion. We also found that the stalks (stipe) of the fruit body contained higher glucan content then the caps (pileus). Since mushrooms respond markedly to changes in environmental and growth conditions, we developed cultivation methods aiming to increase the levels of α and β-glucans. Using olive mill solid waste (OMSW) from three-phase olive mills in the cultivation substrate. We were able to enrich the levels mainly of α-glucans. Maximal total glucan concentrations were enhanced up to twice when the growth substrate contained 80% of OMSW compared to no OMSW. Taking together this study demonstrate that Pleurotus eryngii can serve as a potential rich source of glucans for nutritional and medicinal applications and that glucan content in mushroom fruiting bodies can be further enriched by applying OMSW into the cultivation substrate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glucan: New Perspectives on Biochemistry and Application)
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Open AccessArticle Development of a High-Density SNP-Based Linkage Map and Detection of QTL for β-Glucans, Protein Content, Grain Yield per Spike and Heading Time in Durum Wheat
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(6), 1329; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18061329
Received: 11 May 2017 / Revised: 16 June 2017 / Accepted: 17 June 2017 / Published: 21 June 2017
PDF Full-text (2109 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
High-density genetic linkage maps of crop species are particularly useful in detecting qualitative and quantitative trait loci for important agronomic traits and in improving the power of classical approaches to identify candidate genes. The aim of this study was to develop a high-density
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High-density genetic linkage maps of crop species are particularly useful in detecting qualitative and quantitative trait loci for important agronomic traits and in improving the power of classical approaches to identify candidate genes. The aim of this study was to develop a high-density genetic linkage map in a durum wheat recombinant inbred lines population (RIL) derived from two elite wheat cultivars and to identify, characterize and correlate Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) for β-glucan, protein content, grain yield per spike and heading time. A dense map constructed by genotyping the RIL population with the wheat 90K iSelect array included 5444 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers distributed in 36 linkage groups. Data for β-glucan and protein content, grain yield per spike and heading time were obtained from replicated trials conducted at two locations in southern Italy. A total of 19 QTL were detected in different chromosome regions. In particular, three QTL for β-glucan content were detected on chromosomes 2A and 2B (two loci); eight QTL controlling grain protein content were detected on chromosomes 1B, 2B, 3B (two loci), 4A, 5A, 7A and 7B; seven QTL for grain yield per spike were identified on chromosomes 1A, 2B, 3A (two loci), 3B (two loci) and 6B; and one marker-trait association was detected on chromosome 2A for heading time. The last was co-located with a β-glucan QTL, and the two QTL appeared to be negatively correlated. A genome scan for genomic regions controlling the traits and SNP annotated sequences identified five putative candidate genes involved in different biosynthesis pathways (β-glucosidase, GLU1a; APETALA2, TaAP2; gigantea 3, TaGI3; 14-3-3 protein, Ta14A; and photoperiod sensitivity, Ppd-A1). This study provides additional information on QTL for important agronomic traits that could be useful for marker-assisted breeding to obtain new genotypes with commercial and nutritional relevance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glucan: New Perspectives on Biochemistry and Application)
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Open AccessArticle Studies on Trans-Resveratrol/Carboxymethylated (1,3/1,6)-β-d-Glucan Association for Aerosol Pharmaceutical Applications
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(5), 967; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18050967
Received: 21 March 2017 / Revised: 20 April 2017 / Accepted: 30 April 2017 / Published: 3 May 2017
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Abstract
A resveratrol/carboxymethylated glucan (CM-glucan) combination is known to inhibit rhinovirus replication and expression of inflammatory mediators in nasal epithelia. The aim of this study was to develop an aerosol formulation containing an association of the two molecules which could reach the lower respiratory
[...] Read more.
A resveratrol/carboxymethylated glucan (CM-glucan) combination is known to inhibit rhinovirus replication and expression of inflammatory mediators in nasal epithelia. The aim of this study was to develop an aerosol formulation containing an association of the two molecules which could reach the lower respiratory tract. Mass median aerodynamic diameter (MMAD) of a resveratrol/CM-glucan combination was lower than that shown by resveratrol or CM-glucan alone (2.83 versus 3.28 and 2.96 µm, respectively). The resveratrol/CM-glucan association results in the finest and most monodispersed particles in comparison to the two single components. The association also evidenced lower values for all particle size distribution parameters, suggesting that the pharmacological synergy observed in previous studies may be accompanied by a pharmaceutical one. Moreover, we showed that the CM-glucan matrix did not exert an inhibitory effect on resveratrol nebulization, demonstrating the good suitability of these two molecules in association for simultaneous aerosol volatilization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glucan: New Perspectives on Biochemistry and Application)
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Open AccessArticle Detection of (1,3)-β-d-Glucan for the Diagnosis of Invasive Fungal Infection in Liver Transplant Recipients
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(4), 862; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18040862
Received: 15 February 2017 / Revised: 11 April 2017 / Accepted: 13 April 2017 / Published: 19 April 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (695 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Invasive fungal infections (IFI) are complications after liver transplantation involving high morbidity and mortality. (1,3)-β-d-glucan (BG) is a biomarker for IFI, but its utility remains uncertain. This study was designed to evaluate the impact of BG following their diagnosis. Between January
[...] Read more.
Invasive fungal infections (IFI) are complications after liver transplantation involving high morbidity and mortality. (1,3)-β-d-glucan (BG) is a biomarker for IFI, but its utility remains uncertain. This study was designed to evaluate the impact of BG following their diagnosis. Between January 2013 and May 2016, 271 liver transplants were performed in our institution. Serum samples were tested for BG (Fungitell®, Associates Cape Code Inc., Falmouth, MA, USA) at least weekly between liver transplantation and the discharge of patients. Nineteen patients (7%) were diagnosed with IFI, including 13 cases of invasive candidiasis (IC), eight cases of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis, and one case of septic arthritis due to Scedosporium apiospernum. Using a single BG sample for the primary analysis of IFI, 95% (21/22) of the subjects had positive BG (>80 pg/mL) at the time of IFI diagnosis. The area under the ROC curves to predict IFI was 0.78 (95% CI: 0.73–0.83). The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of BG for IFI were 75% (95% CI: 65–83), 65% (62–68), 17% (13–21), and 96% (94–97), respectively. Based on their high NPV, the BG test appears to constitute a good biomarker to rule out a diagnosis of IFI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glucan: New Perspectives on Biochemistry and Application)
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Open AccessArticle An Amylase-Like Protein, AmyD, Is the Major Negative Regulator for α-Glucan Synthesis in Aspergillus nidulans during the Asexual Life Cycle
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(4), 695; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18040695
Received: 11 February 2017 / Revised: 18 March 2017 / Accepted: 22 March 2017 / Published: 27 March 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (6273 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
α-Glucan affects fungal cell–cell interactions and is important for the virulence of pathogenic fungi. Interfering with production of α-glucan could help to prevent fungal infection. In our previous study, we reported that an amylase-like protein, AmyD, could repress α-glucan accumulation in Aspergillus nidulans
[...] Read more.
α-Glucan affects fungal cell–cell interactions and is important for the virulence of pathogenic fungi. Interfering with production of α-glucan could help to prevent fungal infection. In our previous study, we reported that an amylase-like protein, AmyD, could repress α-glucan accumulation in Aspergillus nidulans. However, the underlying molecular mechanism was not clear. Here, we examined the localization of AmyD and found it was a membrane-associated protein. We studied AmyD function in α-glucan degradation, as well as with other predicted amylase-like proteins and three annotated α-glucanases. AmyC and AmyE share a substantial sequence identity with AmyD, however, neither affects α-glucan synthesis. In contrast, AgnB and MutA (but not AgnE) are functional α-glucanases that also repress α-glucan accumulation. Nevertheless, the functions of AmyD and these glucanases were independent from each other. The dynamics of α-glucan accumulation showed different patterns between the AmyD overexpression strain and the α-glucanase overexpression strains, suggesting AmyD may not be involved in the α-glucan degradation process. These results suggest the function of AmyD is to directly suppress α-glucan synthesis, but not to facilitate its degradation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glucan: New Perspectives on Biochemistry and Application)
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Open AccessArticle Solvent Retention Capacities of Oat Flour
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(3), 590; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18030590
Received: 4 February 2017 / Revised: 1 March 2017 / Accepted: 4 March 2017 / Published: 13 March 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (222 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study measured the solvent retention capacities (SRCs) of flours from eight oat varieties and one wheat variety against different solvents to explore the swelling volume of oat flour with different solvents, and thus provide a theoretical basis for quick β-glucan analysis. The
[...] Read more.
This study measured the solvent retention capacities (SRCs) of flours from eight oat varieties and one wheat variety against different solvents to explore the swelling volume of oat flour with different solvents, and thus provide a theoretical basis for quick β-glucan analysis. The SRC profile consists of water SRC (WSRC), 50% sucrose SRC (SSRC), 5% lactic acid SRC (LASRC), 5% Na2CO3 SRC (SCASRC), NaCl SRC (SCSRC), CaCl2 SRC (CCSRC), FeCl3 SRC (FCSRC), sodium cholate SRC (SCHSRC), NaOH (pH 10) SRC (SHSRC), Na2CO3 (pH 10) SRC (SCABSRC) and SDS (pH 10) SRC (SDSSRC) values, and a Chopin SRC kit was used to measure the SRC value. SRCs of the oat flours increased when the solvents turned from neutral (water and NaCl) to acidic (5% lactic acid) or alkaline (5% Na2CO3, CaCl2, FeCl3, NaOH and pH 10 Na2CO3), and rose as the metal ion valencies of the metal salts (NaCl, CaCl2 and FeCl3) increased. The β-glucan contents were significantly positively correlated with the SCSRC (0.83**), CCSRC (0.82**), SCHSRC (0.80**) and FCSRC (0.78*). SRC measurements of β-glucan in oat flours revealed that the CCSRC values were related with β-glucan (0.64*) but not related with protein and starch. CaCl2 could therefore potentially be exploited as a reagent for β-glucan assay. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glucan: New Perspectives on Biochemistry and Application)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Overview of β-Glucans from Laminaria spp.: Immunomodulation Properties and Applications on Biologic Models
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(9), 1629; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18091629
Received: 18 June 2017 / Revised: 9 July 2017 / Accepted: 11 July 2017 / Published: 6 September 2017
PDF Full-text (495 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Glucans are a group of glucose polymers that are found in bacteria, algae, fungi, and plants. While their properties are well known, their biochemical and solubility characteristics vary considerably, and glucans obtained from different sources can have different applications. Research has described the
[...] Read more.
Glucans are a group of glucose polymers that are found in bacteria, algae, fungi, and plants. While their properties are well known, their biochemical and solubility characteristics vary considerably, and glucans obtained from different sources can have different applications. Research has described the bioactivity of β-glucans extracted from the algae of the Laminaria genus, including in vivo and in vitro studies assessing pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, vaccine production, inhibition of cell proliferation, and anti- and pro-oxidant activity. Thus, the objective of this article was to review the potential application of β-glucans from Laminaria spp. in terms of their immunomodulatory properties, microorganism host interaction, anti-cancer activity and vaccine development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glucan: New Perspectives on Biochemistry and Application)
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Open AccessReview Clinical and Physiological Perspectives of β-Glucans: The Past, Present, and Future
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(9), 1906; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18091906
Received: 11 August 2017 / Revised: 31 August 2017 / Accepted: 31 August 2017 / Published: 5 September 2017
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (590 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
β-Glucans are a group of biologically-active fibers or polysaccharides from natural sources with proven medical significance. β-Glucans are known to have antitumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, anti-allergic, anti-osteoporotic, and immunomodulating activities. β-Glucans are natural bioactive compounds and can be taken orally, as a food supplement,
[...] Read more.
β-Glucans are a group of biologically-active fibers or polysaccharides from natural sources with proven medical significance. β-Glucans are known to have antitumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, anti-allergic, anti-osteoporotic, and immunomodulating activities. β-Glucans are natural bioactive compounds and can be taken orally, as a food supplement, or as part of a daily diet, and are considered safe to use. The medical significance and efficiency of β-glucans are confirmed in vitro, as well as using animal- and human-based clinical studies. However, systematic study on the clinical and physiological significance of β-glucans is scarce. In this review, we not only discuss the clinical and physiological importance of β-glucans, we also compare their biological activities through the existing in vitro and animal-based in vivo studies. This review provides extensive data on the clinical study of β-glucans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glucan: New Perspectives on Biochemistry and Application)
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Open AccessReview Translational Development and Application of (1→3)-β-d-Glucan for Diagnosis and Therapeutic Monitoring of Invasive Mycoses
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(6), 1124; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18061124
Received: 14 April 2017 / Revised: 9 May 2017 / Accepted: 16 May 2017 / Published: 24 May 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (241 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Early diagnosis and prompt initiation of appropriate antimicrobial therapy are crucial steps in the management of patients with invasive fungal infections. However, the diagnosis of invasive mycoses remains a major challenge in clinical practice, because presenting symptoms may be subtle and non-invasive diagnostic
[...] Read more.
Early diagnosis and prompt initiation of appropriate antimicrobial therapy are crucial steps in the management of patients with invasive fungal infections. However, the diagnosis of invasive mycoses remains a major challenge in clinical practice, because presenting symptoms may be subtle and non-invasive diagnostic assays often lack sensitivity and specificity. Diagnosis is often expressed on a scale of probability (proven, probable and possible) based on a constellation of imaging findings, microbiological tools and histopathology, as there is no stand-alone assay for diagnosis. Recent data suggest that the carbohydrate biomarker (1→3)-β-d-glucan may be useful in both the diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring of invasive fungal infections due to some yeasts, molds, and dimorphic fungi. In this paper, we review recent advances in the use of (1→3)-β-d-glucan to monitor clinical response to antifungal therapy and explore how this assay may be used in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glucan: New Perspectives on Biochemistry and Application)
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