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      Clinical and Physiological Perspectives of β-Glucans: The Past, Present, and Future


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          β-Glucans are a group of biologically-active fibers or polysaccharides from natural sources with proven medical significance. β-Glucans are known to have antitumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, anti-allergic, anti-osteoporotic, and immunomodulating activities. β-Glucans are natural bioactive compounds and can be taken orally, as a food supplement, or as part of a daily diet, and are considered safe to use. The medical significance and efficiency of β-glucans are confirmed in vitro, as well as using animal- and human-based clinical studies. However, systematic study on the clinical and physiological significance of β-glucans is scarce. In this review, we not only discuss the clinical and physiological importance of β-glucans, we also compare their biological activities through the existing in vitro and animal-based in vivo studies. This review provides extensive data on the clinical study of β-glucans.

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          Most cited references 204

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          Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis.

          The effects of dietary soluble fibers on blood cholesterol are uncertain. This meta-analysis of 67 controlled trials was performed to quantify the cholesterol-lowering effect of major dietary fibers. Least-squares regression analyses were used to test the effect on blood lipids of pectin, oat bran, guar gum, and psyllium. Independent variables were type and amount of soluble fiber, initial cholesterol concentration, and other important study characteristics. Soluble fiber, 2-10 g/d, was associated with small but significant decreases in total cholesterol [-0.045 mmol L(-1).g soluble fiber(-1) (95% CI: -0.054, -0.035)] and LDL cholesterol [-0.057 mmol.L(-1).g(-1) (95% CI: -0.070, -0.044)]. The effects on plasma lipids of soluble fiber from oat, psyllium, or pectin were not significantly different. We were unable to compare effects of guar because of the limited number of studies using 2-10 g/d. Triacylglycerols and HDL cholesterol were not significantly influenced by soluble fiber. Lipid changes were independent of study design, treatment length, and background dietary fat content. Various soluble fibers reduce total and LDL cholesterol by similar amounts. The effect is small within the practical range of intake. For example, 3 g soluble fiber from oats (3 servings of oatmeal, 28 g each) can decrease total and LDL cholesterol by approximately 0.13 mmol/L. Increasing soluble fiber can make only a small contribution to dietary therapy to lower cholesterol.
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            Mechanism by which orally administered beta-1,3-glucans enhance the tumoricidal activity of antitumor monoclonal antibodies in murine tumor models.

            Antitumor mAb bind to tumors and activate complement, coating tumors with iC3b. Intravenously administered yeast beta-1,3;1,6-glucan functions as an adjuvant for antitumor mAb by priming the inactivated C3b (iC3b) receptors (CR3; CD11b/CD18) of circulating granulocytes, enabling CR3 to trigger cytotoxicity of iC3b-coated tumors. Recent data indicated that barley beta-1,3;1,4-glucan given orally similarly potentiated the activity of antitumor mAb, leading to enhanced tumor regression and survival. This investigation showed that orally administered yeast beta-1,3;1,6-glucan functioned similarly to barley beta-1,3;1,4-glucan with antitumor mAb. With both oral beta-1,3-glucans, a requirement for iC3b on tumors and CR3 on granulocytes was confirmed by demonstrating therapeutic failures in mice deficient in C3 or CR3. Barley and yeast beta-1,3-glucan were labeled with fluorescein to track their oral uptake and processing in vivo. Orally administered beta-1,3-glucans were taken up by macrophages that transported them to spleen, lymph nodes, and bone marrow. Within the bone marrow, the macrophages degraded the large beta-1,3-glucans into smaller soluble beta-1,3-glucan fragments that were taken up by the CR3 of marginated granulocytes. These granulocytes with CR3-bound beta-1,3-glucan-fluorescein were shown to kill iC3b-opsonized tumor cells following their recruitment to a site of complement activation resembling a tumor coated with mAb.
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              Medicinal importance of fungal beta-(1-->3), (1-->6)-glucans.

              Non-cellulosic beta-glucans are now recognized as potent immunological activators, and some are used clinically in China and Japan. These beta-glucans consist of a backbone of glucose residues linked by beta-(1-->3)-glycosidic bonds, often with attached side-chain glucose residues joined by beta-(1-->6) linkages. The frequency of branching varies. The literature suggests beta-glucans are effective in treating diseases like cancer, a range of microbial infections, hypercholesterolaemia, and diabetes. Their mechanisms of action involve them being recognized as non-self molecules, so the immune system is stimulated by their presence. Several receptors have been identified, which include: dectin-1, located on macrophages, which mediates beta-glucan activation of phagocytosis and production of cytokines, a response co-ordinated by the toll-like receptor-2. Activated complement receptors on natural killer cells, neutrophils, and lymphocytes, may also be associated with tumour cytotoxicity. Two other receptors, scavenger and lactosylceramide, bind beta-glucans and mediate a series of signal pathways leading to immunological activation. Structurally different beta-glucans appear to have different affinities toward these receptors and thus generate markedly different host responses. However, the published data are not always easy to interpret as many of the earlier studies used crude beta-glucan preparations with, for the most part, unknown chemical structures. Careful choice of beta-glucan products is essential if their benefits are to be optimized, and a better understanding of how beta-glucans bind to receptors should enable more efficient use of their biological activities.

                Author and article information

                Int J Mol Sci
                Int J Mol Sci
                International Journal of Molecular Sciences
                05 September 2017
                September 2017
                : 18
                : 9
                [1 ]Seafood Research Center, IACF, Silla University, Advanced Seafood Processing Complex #606, Wonyang-ro, Amnam-dong, Seo-gu, Busan 49277, Korea; imranagrarian3@ 123456gmail.com
                [2 ]Major in Food Biotechnology, Division of Bioindustry, College of Medical and Life Sciences, Silla University, 140, Baegyang-daero 700 beon-gil, Sasang-gu, Busan 46958, Korea
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: jsc1008@ 123456silla.ac.kr ; Tel.: +82-51-999-5647; Fax: +82-51-999-5644
                © 2017 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).



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