Effects of glucan on immunosuppressive actions of mercury

J Med Food. 2009 Oct;12(5):1098-104. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2008.0273.


Global cycling of mercury results in the presence of mercury salts in the environment. The well-established negative effects of mercury on the immune system led us to the study whether natural immunomodulator glucan can overcome the immunosuppressive effects of mercury. Two types of mercury, thimerosal and mercury acetate, were administered in a dose of 2-8 mg/L of drinking water to mice. After 2 weeks, all mice exhibited profound suppression of both cellular (phagocytosis, natural killer cell activity, mitogen-induced proliferation, and expression of CD markers) and humoral (antibody formation and secretion of interleukin-6, interleukin-12, and interferon-gamma) responses. The mice were then fed with a diet containing a standard dose of glucan. Our results showed that simultaneous treatment with mercury and glucan resulted in significantly lower immunotoxic effects of mercury, which suggests that glucans can be successfully used as a natural remedy of low-level exposure to mercury.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity / drug effects*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / toxicity*
  • Mercury / immunology
  • Mercury / toxicity*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical / toxicity*
  • Thimerosal / immunology
  • Thimerosal / toxicity*
  • beta-Glucans / pharmacology*
  • beta-Glucans / therapeutic use


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical
  • beta-Glucans
  • Thimerosal
  • Mercury