The differentiation of T helper (Th) cells is critically dependent on cytokine milieu. The innate immune monocytes produce IL-1β which can affect the development of Th17 and Th1 cells that predominantly produce IL-17 and IFN-γ, respectively. Oligosaccharides from microorganisms, crops and mushrooms can stimulate innate immune cells. Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) that contains a large amount of oligosaccharides is a natural extract prepared from the mycelium of the edible Basidiomycete fungus. This compound is reported to modulate immune responses against pathogens although the mechanisms for this effect are largely unknown. Here we show that AHCC could induce high levels of IL-1β production from human monocytes. Furthermore, AHCC-treated monocytes increased the production of IL-17 and IFN-γ from autologous CD4(+) T cells, which was blocked by adding IL-1 receptor antagonist. These finding provide new insight into how food supplements like AHCC could enhance human immunity by modulating monocytes and Th cells.
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