Background: Previous studies demonstrated Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides (GL-PS), a form of bioactive beta-glucan can stimulate the maturation of monocyte-derived dendritic cells (DC). The question of how leukemic cells especially in monocytic lineage respond to GL-PS stimuli remains unclear.
Results: In this study, we used in vitro culture model with leukemic monocytic cell-lines THP-1 and U937 as monocytic effectors cells for proliferation responses and DCs induction. We treated the THP-1 and U937 cells with purified GL-PS (100 microg/mL) or GL-PS with GM-CSF/IL-4. GL-PS alone induced proliferative response on both THP-1 and U937 cells but only THP-1 transformed into typical DC morphology when stimulated with GL-PS plus GM-CSF/IL-4. The transformed THP-1 DCs had significant increase expression of HLA-DR, CD40, CD80 and CD86 though not as high as the extent of normal monocyte-derived DCs. They had similar antigen-uptake ability as the normal monocyte-derived DCs positive control. However, their potency in inducing allogeneic T cell proliferation was also less than that of normal monocyte-derived DCs.
Conclusion: Our findings suggested that GL-PS could induce selected monocytic leukemic cell differentiation into DCs with immuno-stimulatory function. The possible clinical impact of using this commonly used medicinal mushroom in patients with monocytic leukemia (AML-M4 and M5) deserved further investigation.