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Drug Discov Ther. 2012 Apr;6(2):88-93.

Evaluation of innate immune stimulating activity of polysaccharides using a silkworm (Bombyx mori) muscle contraction assay.

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Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.


In silkworm larvae, the mature form of paralytic peptide (PP), an insect cytokine, is produced from pro-PP in association with activation of innate immune responses, resulting in slow muscle contraction. We utilized this reaction, muscle contraction in silkworms coupled with innate immunity stimulation, to quantitatively measure the innate immune stimulating activity of various natural polysaccharides. β-Glucan of Gyrophora esculenta (GE-3), fucoidan from sporophyll of Undaria pinnatifida, and curldan induced silkworm muscle contraction. We further demonstrated that GE-3 had therapeutic effects on silkworms infected by baculovirus. Based on these findings, we propose that the silkworm muscle contraction assay is useful for screening substances that stimulate innate immunity before evaluating therapeutic effectiveness in mammals.

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