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Crit Rev Microbiol. 2009;35(2):109-38. doi: 10.1080/10408410902753746.

Beta-glucans as immunostimulant in vertebrates and invertebrates.

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Laboratory of Aquaculture and Artemia Reference Center, Department of Animal Production, Ghent University, Rozier 44, B-9000 Gent, Belgium.


Beta-glucans have been studied in animal species, from earthworms to humans. They are a heterogeneous group of glucose polymers found in fungi, plants, some bacteria, and sea weeds. The recognition of conserved microbial structures is a key aspect of metazoan immunity, and beta-glucans are emerging as major target for the recognition of fungal pathogens. However, the receptors and mechanisms by which this is achieved differ significantly between vertebrates and invertebrates. In this review, we will highlight the known receptors for beta-glucans and will discuss the various immune responses they can initiate, with some applications of these products, in both vertebrates and invertebrates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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