Immunomodulating polysaccharides from the lichen Thamnolia vermicularis var. subuliformis

Phytomedicine. 2007 Feb;14(2-3):179-84. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2006.11.012. Epub 2007 Jan 11.


Three heteroglycans Ths-4, Ths-5 and thamnolan and a beta-glucan, Ths-2, isolated from the lichen Thamnolia vermicularis var. subuliformis were tested for in vitro immunomodulating activities and shown to have various influences on the immune system. All the polysaccharides except Ths-4 caused a stimulation of rat spleen cell proliferation. In contrast, Ths-4 caused cell death early in the culture, probably due to over-stimulation. Moreover, the galactofuranomannans, Ths-4, Ths-5 and the beta-glucan Ths-2, induced rat spleen cells to secrete IL-10 significantly above background levels. In addition, Ths-4 and Ths-5 stimulated significant TNF-alpha secretion by rat peritoneal macrophages. The galactofuranomannans Ths-4 and Ths-5 have similar structures apart from the molecular weight. Thus, it may be concluded that the molecular size might influence the potency but not the pattern of activity for Ths-4 and Ths-5. The galactofuranorhamnan thamnolan had less mitogenic effect than Ths-5 and Ths-2 and neither induced IL-10 secretion by rat spleen cells nor TNF-alpha secretion by peritoneal macrophages to significant levels. This shows that thamnolan with its unusual galactofuranorhamnan structure differs from the other Thamnolia polysaccharides in its immunomodulatory activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured / metabolism
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Immunologic Factors / administration & dosage
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology*
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Lichens*
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / drug effects
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / metabolism
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Polysaccharides / administration & dosage
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Polysaccharides / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / drug effects
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polysaccharides
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10