Maitake D-fraction or PDF is the bioactive extract of maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) and its active constituent is the protein-bound polysaccharide (proteoglucan), or more specifically known as beta-glucan. PDF has been extensively studied and a number of its medicinal potentials/properties have been unveiled and demonstrated. Those include various physiological benefits ranging from immunomodulatory and antitumor activities to treatment for hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, viral infections (hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus), and obesity. Particularly, two major biological activities of PDF, immunomodulatory and antitumor activities, have been the main target for scientific and clinical research. To demonstrate and confirm such biological activities, numerous studies have been performed in vitro and in vivo or in clinical settings. These studies showed that PDF was indeed capable of modulating immunologic and hematologic parameters, inhibiting or regressing the cancer cell growth, and even improving quality of life of cancer patients. Synergistic potentiation of PDF with vitamin C demonstrated in vitro is rather interesting and may have clinical implication, because such combination therapy appears to help improve the efficacy of currently ongoing cancer therapies. Recently, intravenous administration of vitamin C has been often used to increase its physiological concentration and this useful procedure may further make this combination therapy feasible. Therefore, PDF may have great potential, either being used solely or combined with other agents, for cancer therapy. Such relevant and detailed studies will be described and discussed herein with a special focus on the combination of PDF and vitamin C as a viable therapeutic option.
Keywords: PDF; cancer therapy; maitake D-fraction; synergism; vitamin C.