Polysaccharides from lichens: structural characteristics and biological activity

Planta Med. 2001 Apr;67(3):199-208. doi: 10.1055/s-2001-12012.

Abstract

Lichens have been used for medicinal purposes throughout the ages, and beneficial claims have to some extent been correlated with their polysaccharide content. Of 13,500 lichen species growing worldwide, less than 100 species have been investigated for polysaccharide content. Lichen polysaccharides are mainly of three different structural types: beta-glucans, alpha-glucans, and galactomannans. In addition, a few complex heteroglycans have recently been described, such as thamnolan, a water-soluble, immunologically active heteroglycan with a novel rhamnopyranosylgalactofuranan type of structure. A number of investigations have been carried out on biological effects of lichen polysaccharides, most notably antitumour, immunomodulating, antiviral, and memory-enhancing effects. The current review summarizes present knowledge on the structural characteristics and biological activity of lichen polysaccrides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / isolation & purification
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antiviral Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Glucans / isolation & purification
  • Glucans / therapeutic use
  • Lichens / chemistry*
  • Lichens / classification
  • Mannans / isolation & purification
  • Mannans / therapeutic use
  • Mice
  • Phytotherapy
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / immunology
  • Polysaccharides / isolation & purification
  • Polysaccharides / therapeutic use*
  • Rats

Substances

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Glucans
  • Mannans
  • Polysaccharides
  • galactomannan