A sulfated polysaccharide, fucoidan, enhances the immunomodulatory effects of lactic acid bacteria

Int J Mol Med. 2012 Mar;29(3):447-53. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2011.854. Epub 2011 Dec 5.


Fucoidan, a sulfated polysaccharide contained in brown algae, has a variety of immunomodulatory effects, including antitumor and antiviral effects. On the other hand, lactic acid bacteria (LAB) also have immunomodulatory effects such as anti-allergic effects. In this study, we demonstrated that fucoidan enhances the probiotic effects of LAB on immune functions. By using Peyer's patch cells and spleen cells in vitro, fucoidan amplified interferon (IFN)-γ production in response to a strain of LAB, Tetragenococcus halophilus KK221, and this activity was abolished by desulfation of fucoidan. Moreover, this IFN-γ response was abolished by interleukin (IL)-12 neutralization. These results indicate that fucoidan enhanced IL-12 production in response to KK221, resulting in promoting IFN-γ production. In an in vivo study, Th1/Th2 immunobalance was most improved by oral administration of both fucoidan and KK221 to ovalbumin-immunized mice. These findings suggest that fucoidan can enhance a variety of beneficial effects of LAB on immune functions.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Enterococcaceae / drug effects*
  • Enterococcaceae / immunology*
  • Immunologic Factors / metabolism
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology*
  • Lymph Nodes / drug effects
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Male
  • Mesentery
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Peyer's Patches / drug effects
  • Peyer's Patches / immunology
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Polysaccharides
  • fucoidan