Do cereal mixed-linked β-glucans possess immune-modulating activities?

Authors

  • Anne Rieder,

    1. Nofima Mat, Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, Aas, Norway
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  • Anne Berit Samuelsen

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
    • Nofima Mat, Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, Aas, Norway
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Correspondence: Dr. Anne Berit Samuelsen, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, University of Oslo, N-0316 Oslo, Norway

E-mail: a.b.samuelsen@farmasi.uio.no

Fax: +47-22-854-402

Abstract

β-glucans are known for their immune-modulating properties. However, the heterogeneity of these glucose polymers makes a distinction between the different sources and structures necessary—a fact that has been little allowed for in the literature. We have focused on β-glucans from cereals as they are already used as functional food ingredients due to their established cholesterol lowering effect. Cereal β-glucans have shown in vitro activity on cytokine secretion, phagocytic activity and cytotoxicity of isolated immune cells, and activation of the complement system. Animal studies suggest a possible protective effect against an intestinal parasite, against bacterial infection, and a synergistic effect in antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. Animal studies have shown activity of orally applied cereal β-glucans indicating uptake or interaction with cells of the gastrointestinal tract. However, uptake is still debated, interaction with intestinal epithelial cells has been suggested but not clarified, and mechanisms of action remain largely unknown. So far, cereal β-glucans have not shown immune modulation in the few conducted human studies and further studies are needed to clarify their effect.

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