Dioscorea phytocompounds enhance murine splenocyte proliferation ex vivo and improve regeneration of bone marrow cells in vivo

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:731308. doi: 10.1093/ecam/neq032. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


Specific cytokines have been tested clinically for immunotherapy of cancers; however, cytotoxicity has often impaired their usefulness. Consequently, alternative approaches are increasingly desirable. Dioscorea spp. tuber is a widely used traditional Chinese medicinal herb claimed to confer immunostimulatory activity. In this study, we evaluated Dioscorea as an adjuvant therapy for use alongside chemotherapy for cancer. Phytocompounds from Dioscorea tubers were ethanol fractioned and used for ex vivo splenocyte proliferation assay or in vivo force-feeding of mice pre-treated with the chemotherapy agent 5-fluorouracil. Co-treatment with a 50-75% ethanol-partitioned fraction of the tuber extract of D. batatas (DsCE-II) and interleukin (IL)-2 resulted in a significantly higher rate of murine splenocyte cell proliferation ex vivo than treatment with DsCE-II or IL-2 alone. This DsCE-II fraction, which contains a polysaccharide with a high proportion of β-1,4-linkage mannose (≥64%), also promoted the regeneration of specific progenitor cell populations in damaged bone marrow tissues of 5-fluorouracil-treated mice. Colony-forming unit (CFU) analyses demonstrated that the population of CFU-GM cells, but not CFU-GEMM or BFU-E cells, preferentially recovered to ~67% in the bone marrow of immune-suppressed mice fed with DsCE-II. DsCE-II efficacy level was ~85% of that obtained by subcutaneous administration of recombinant G-CSF proteins (5 μg kg(-1)) in mice tested in parallel. This study suggests that the DsCE-II fraction of D. batatas extract may be considered for further development as a dietary supplement for use alongside chemotherapy during cancer treatment.