Orally administered beta-glucans enhance anti-tumor effects of monoclonal antibodies

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2002 Nov;51(10):557-64. doi: 10.1007/s00262-002-0321-3. Epub 2002 Sep 20.


beta-Glucan primes leukocyte CR3 for enhanced cytotoxicity and synergizes with anti-tumor monoclonal antibodies (mAb). We studied readily available (1-->3)-beta- D-glucan using the immune deficient xenograft tumor models, and examined the relationship of its anti-tumor effect and physico-chemical properties. Established subcutaneous (s.c.) human xenografts were treated for 29 days orally with daily beta-glucan by intragastric injection and mAb intravenously (i.v.) twice weekly. Control mice received either mAb alone or beta-glucan alone. Tumor sizes were monitored over time. beta-Glucans were studied by carbohydrate linkage analysis, and high performance size-exclusion chromatography with multiple angle laser scattering detection. Orally administered beta- D-glucan greatly enhanced the anti-tumor effects of mAb against established tumors in mice. We observed this beta-glucan effect irrespective of antigen (GD2, GD3, CD20, epidermal growth factor-receptor, HER-2), human tumor type (neuroblastoma, melanoma, lymphoma, epidermoid carcinoma and breast carcinoma) or tumor sites (s.c. versus systemic). This effect correlated with the molecular size of the (1-->3),(1-->4)-beta- D-glucan. Orally administered (1-->3),(1-->6)-beta- D-glucans also synergized with mAb, although the effect was generally less marked. Given the favorable efficacy and toxicity profile of oral beta- D-glucan treatment, the role of natural products that contain beta-glucan in cancer treatment as an enhancer of the effect of mAb therapy deserves further study.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Division
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Drug Synergism
  • Glucans / administration & dosage
  • Glucans / chemistry
  • Glucans / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Molecular Weight
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / therapy*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays
  • beta-Glucans*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Glucans
  • beta-Glucans
  • beta-glucan, (1-3)(1-4)-
  • beta-1,3-glucan