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Clin Microbiol Rev. 2000 Oct;13(4):523-33.

Polysaccharide immunomodulators as therapeutic agents: structural aspects and biologic function.

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Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Polysaccharide immunomodulators were first discovered over 40 years ago. Although very few have been rigorously studied, recent reports have revealed the mechanism of action and structure-function attributes of some of these molecules. Certain polysaccharide immunomodulators have been identified that have profound effects in the regulation of immune responses during the progression of infectious diseases, and studies have begun to define structural aspects of these molecules that govern their function and interaction with cells of the host immune system. These polymers can influence innate and cell-mediated immunity through interactions with T cells, monocytes, macrophages, and polymorphonuclear lymphocytes. The ability to modulate the immune response in an appropriate way can enhance the host's immune response to certain infections. In addition, this strategy can be utilized to augment current treatment regimens such as antimicrobial therapy that are becoming less efficacious with the advent of antibiotic resistance. This review focuses on recent studies that illustrate the structural and biologic activities of specific polysaccharide immunomodulators and outlines their potential for clinical use.

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