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Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Mar;8(3):339-52. doi: 10.1586/eri.10.10.

Potential of the beta-glucans to enhance innate resistance to biological agents.

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Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down, Wiltshire, SP4 OJQ, UK.


The use of numerous mushroom species in traditional medicine has been widely documented, with their observed immunomodulatory effects now attributed, in part, to bioactive components called beta-glucans. The beta-glucans are of particular interest since they are naturally occurring polymers of glucose, are orally active when taken as food supplements and have a long track record of safe use. Due to their immunomodulatory properties, purified beta-glucans have been used clinically as part of a combination therapy for a variety of cancers and their potential anti-infective properties have received attention. This review relates the structure of beta-glucans to their function, with a particular focus on their documented immunomodulatory effects and the mechanisms by which they affect inter- and intracellular function, resulting in potential antimicrobial benefits. Overall, the benefits of dietary supplementation with beta-glucans in order to enhance innate resistance to biological agents are evaluated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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