Agrocybe aegerita polysaccharide combined with chemotherapy improves tumor necrosis factor-α and interferon-γ levels in rat esophageal carcinoma

Dis Esophagus. Nov-Dec 2013;26(8):859-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2050.2012.01397.x. Epub 2012 Sep 4.


Natural compounds have generated great interest as alternative treatments of diseases like cancer. Here, we investigated the anti-tumor mechanism of one such compound, Agrocybe aegerita polysaccharide, by assessing expression of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) in rat esophageal carcinoma (EC). EC was induced in healthy Wistar rats by methyl-n-amyl nitrosamine. Subsequently, rats were administered cancer treatment daily for 4 weeks, as follows: the normal control group (the only group not treated with methyl-n-amyl nitrosamine) and model group received only distilled water; the chemotherapy group received tegafur treatment; and the combination group received tegafur combined with A. aegerita polysaccharide. In normal and combination groups, body weight increased gradually after each week of treatment (P < 0.05), while body weights did not change in model and chemotherapy groups. Using enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, we found serum TNF-α was lower in the combination group (31.56 ± 7.20 pg/L) than either the model (46.24 ± 8.52 pg/L) or chemotherapy (52.39 ± 9.16 pg/L) group, and, while higher, was more similar to the normal controls (25.08 ± 2.93 pg/L; P < 0.05), a finding that was confirmed by the immunohistochemistry of esophageal samples. In contrast, serum IFN-γ was higher in the combination group (97.20 ± 10.92 pg/L) than in either the model (76.11 ± 11.92 pg/L) or chemotherapy (76.04 ± 9.85 pg/L) group, but lower than in the normal group (117.56 ± 10.88; P < 0.05), also confirmed by immunohistochemistry. Therefore, Agrocybe aegerita polysaccharide, when combined with chemotherapy, can regulate immune function in EC, potentially by modulating cytokine activity, specifically downregulation of TNF-α and upregulation of IFN-γ.

Keywords: Agrocybe aegerita polysaccharide; esophageal carcinoma; interferon-γ; rat model; tumor necrosis factor-α.

MeSH terms

  • Agrocybe*
  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / pharmacology*
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Carcinoma / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma / immunology*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Female
  • Fungal Polysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Fungal Polysaccharides / therapeutic use
  • Interferon-gamma / drug effects*
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tegafur / pharmacology*
  • Tegafur / therapeutic use
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / drug effects*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Fungal Polysaccharides
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Tegafur
  • Interferon-gamma