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Neoplasma. 2008;55(5):387-93.

Yeast cell wall polysaccharides as antioxidants and antimutagens: can they fight cancer?

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Institute of Chemistry, Center for Glycomics, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia.


Polysaccharides represent the major part of the yeast cell wall dry weight and build the skeletal carcass defining cell wall stability and cell morphology (beta-D-glucans) or constitute amorphous matrix and cell surface fibrous material (mannans and mannoproteins). It is known that yeast cell wall beta-D-glucans reveal immunomodulating properties, which allows for their application in anti-infective and antitumor therapy. Recent data also suggest that polysaccharides reveal antioxidant activity that can result in their protective function as antioxidants, antimutagens, and antigenotoxic agents. The paper provides a review of our continuing research involving water-soluble derivatives of beta-D-glucan isolated from the baker's yeast Saccharomyces serevisiae and of a glucomannan isolated from the industrial yeast Candida utilis. The results are confronted with the available literature data. The derivatives of beta-D-glucan demonstrated potent inhibitory effect on lipid peroxidation comparable to that of the known antioxidants and exerted DNA protection from oxidative damage. The free radical scavenging activity was confirmed by spin-trap electron paramagnetic resonance. Antimutagenic and antigenotoxic activity of the yeast polysaccharides was demonstrated using yeast, bacterial, and algal models. The derivatives of beta-D-glucan exerted potent enhancement of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) released from murine macrophages and revealed synergistic effect with cyclophosphamide in the treatment of Lewis lung carcinoma and two types of lymphosarcoma in murine models. The results indicate significant protective antioxidant, antimutagenic, and antigenotoxic activities of the yeast polysaccharides and imply their potential application in anticancer prevention/therapy.

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