Modulation of intestinal inflammation by yeasts and cell wall extracts: strain dependence and unexpected anti-inflammatory role of glucan fractions

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40648. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040648. Epub 2012 Jul 27.


Yeasts and their glycan components can have a beneficial or adverse effect on intestinal inflammation. Previous research has shown that the presence of Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. boulardii (Sb) reduces intestinal inflammation and colonization by Candida albicans. The aim of this study was to identify dietary yeasts, which have comparable effects to the anti-C. albicans and anti-inflammatory properties of Sb and to assess the capabilities of yeast cell wall components to modulate intestinal inflammation. Mice received a single oral challenge of C. albicans and were then given 1.5% dextran-sulphate-sodium (DSS) for 2 weeks followed by a 3-day restitution period. S. cerevisiae strains (Sb, Sc1 to Sc4), as well as mannoprotein (MP) and β-glucan crude fractions prepared from Sc2 and highly purified β-glucans prepared from C. albicans were used in this curative model, starting 3 days after C. albicans challenge. Mice were assessed for the clinical, histological and inflammatory responses related to DSS administration. Strain Sc1-1 gave the same level of protection against C. albicans as Sb when assessed by mortality, clinical scores, colonization levels, reduction of TNFα and increase in IL-10 transcription. When Sc1-1 was compared with the other S. cerevisiae strains, the preparation process had a strong influence on biological activity. Interestingly, some S. cerevisiae strains dramatically increased mortality and clinical scores. Strain Sc4 and MP fraction favoured C. albicans colonization and inflammation, whereas β-glucan fraction was protective against both. Surprisingly, purified β-glucans from C. albicans had the same protective effect. Thus, some yeasts appear to be strong modulators of intestinal inflammation. These effects are dependent on the strain, species, preparation process and cell wall fraction. It was striking that β-glucan fractions or pure β-glucans from C. albicans displayed the most potent anti-inflammatory effect in the DSS model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Candida albicans*
  • Candidiasis / drug therapy*
  • Candidiasis / immunology
  • Candidiasis / pathology
  • Cell Wall / chemistry*
  • Complex Mixtures / chemistry*
  • Complex Mixtures / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology
  • Intestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Intestinal Diseases / immunology
  • Intestinal Diseases / microbiology
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology
  • beta-Glucans / chemistry
  • beta-Glucans / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Complex Mixtures
  • IL10 protein, mouse
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • beta-Glucans
  • Interleukin-10

Grant support

This work was funded by the program LEVACI issued from the French Government research plan FUI 5th AAP (DGE-Lille University contract number 082906131, European funds FEDER and local funds from the Région Nord-Pas de Calais, Lille Métropole Communauté Urbaine). LEVACI partners belong to research clusters Nutrition-Santé-Longévité and Végépolys. This work was also funded by the FP7 Health 260338 “ALLFUN” project “Fungi in the setting of inflammation, allergy and auto-immune diseases: translating basic science into clinical practices.” The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.