Potential of the beta-glucans to enhance innate resistance to biological agents

Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Mar;8(3):339-52. doi: 10.1586/eri.10.10.


The use of numerous mushroom species in traditional medicine has been widely documented, with their observed immunomodulatory effects now attributed, in part, to bioactive components called beta-glucans. The beta-glucans are of particular interest since they are naturally occurring polymers of glucose, are orally active when taken as food supplements and have a long track record of safe use. Due to their immunomodulatory properties, purified beta-glucans have been used clinically as part of a combination therapy for a variety of cancers and their potential anti-infective properties have received attention. This review relates the structure of beta-glucans to their function, with a particular focus on their documented immunomodulatory effects and the mechanisms by which they affect inter- and intracellular function, resulting in potential antimicrobial benefits. Overall, the benefits of dietary supplementation with beta-glucans in order to enhance innate resistance to biological agents are evaluated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / drug effects
  • Agaricales / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects*
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • beta-Glucans* / chemistry
  • beta-Glucans* / immunology
  • beta-Glucans* / therapeutic use


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition
  • beta-Glucans