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Drug Des Devel Ther. 2014 Dec 17;9:33-78. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S72892. eCollection 2015.

An evidence-based update on the pharmacological activities and possible molecular targets of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides.

Author information

  • 1Department of Neurology, General Hospital of Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, Ningxia, People's Republic of China ; Department of Pharmaceutical Science, College of Pharmacy, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA.
  • 2Department of Pharmaceutical Science, College of Pharmacy, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA.
  • 3Department of Infectious Diseases, General Hospital of Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, Ningxia, People's Republic of China.
  • 4Department of Endocrinology, General Hospital of Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, Ningxia, People's Republic of China.
  • 5Department of Neurology, General Hospital of Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, Ningxia, People's Republic of China.
  • 6Guizhou Provincial Key Laboratory for Regenerative Medicine, Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering Research Center and Sino-US Joint Laboratory for Medical Sciences, Guiyang Medical University, Guiyang, Guizhou, People's Republic of China.
  • 7Key Laboratory of Craniocerebral Diseases of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, Ningxia, People's Republic of China.
  • 8Research Center for Bioengineering and Sensing Technology, University of Science and Technology Beijing, Beijing, People's Republic of China.
  • 9Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine, Sarasota, FL, USA.
  • 10School of Biology and Chemistry, University of Pu'er, Pu'er, Yunnan, People's Republic of China.
  • 11Department of Pharmaceutical Science, College of Pharmacy, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA ; Guizhou Provincial Key Laboratory for Regenerative Medicine, Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering Research Center and Sino-US Joint Laboratory for Medical Sciences, Guiyang Medical University, Guiyang, Guizhou, People's Republic of China.

Abstract

Lycium barbarum berries, also named wolfberry, Fructus lycii, and Goji berries, have been used in the People's Republic of China and other Asian countries for more than 2,000 years as a traditional medicinal herb and food supplement. L. barbarum polysaccharides (LBPs) are the primary active components of L. barbarum berries and have been reported to possess a wide array of pharmacological activities. Herein, we update our knowledge on the main pharmacological activities and possible molecular targets of LBPs. Several clinical studies in healthy subjects show that consumption of wolfberry juice improves general wellbeing and immune functions. LBPs are reported to have antioxidative and antiaging properties in different models. LBPs show antitumor activities against various types of cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth in nude mice through induction of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest. LBPs may potentiate the efficacy of lymphokine activated killer/interleukin-2 combination therapy in cancer patients. LBPs exhibit significant hypoglycemic effects and insulin-sensitizing activity by increasing glucose metabolism and insulin secretion and promoting pancreatic β-cell proliferation. They protect retinal ganglion cells in experimental models of glaucoma. LBPs protect the liver from injuries due to exposure to toxic chemicals or other insults. They also show potent immunoenhancing activities in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, LBPs protect against neuronal injury and loss induced by β-amyloid peptide, glutamate excitotoxicity, ischemic/reperfusion, and other neurotoxic insults. LBPs ameliorate the symptoms of mice with Alzheimer's disease and enhance neurogenesis in the hippocampus and subventricular zone, improving learning and memory abilities. They reduce irradiation- or chemotherapy-induced organ toxicities. LBPs are beneficial to male reproduction by increasing the quality, quantity, and motility of sperm, improving sexual performance, and protecting the testis against toxic insults. Moreover, LBPs exhibit hypolipidemic, cardioprotective, antiviral, and antiinflammatory activities. There is increasing evidence from preclinical and clinical studies supporting the therapeutic and health-promoting effects of LBPs, but further mechanistic and clinical studies are warranted to establish the dose-response relationships and safety profiles of LBPs.

KEYWORDS:

T cell; anti-aging; antioxidant; apoptosis; cancer; chemotherapy; ischemic/reperfusion injury; mechanism; natural killer

PMID:
25552899
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC4277126
Free PMC Article
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