Wheatgrass is one of the most widely used health foods, but its functional components and mechanisms remain unexplored. Herein, wheatgrass-derived oligosaccharides (WG-PS3) were isolated and found to induce CD69 and Th1 cytokine expression in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. In particular, WG-PS3 directly activated the purified monocytes by inducing the expression of CD69, CD80, CD86, IL-12, and TNF-α but affected NK and T cells only in the presence of monocytes. After further purification and structural analysis, maltoheptaose was identified from WG-PS3 as an immunomodulator. Maltoheptaose activated monocytes via Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR-2) signaling, as discovered by pretreatment of blocking antibodies against Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and also determined by click chemistry. This study is the first to reveal the immunostimulatory component of wheatgrass with well defined molecular structures and mechanisms.
Keywords: Carbohydrate Function; Immune Activation; Maltoheptaose; Monocytes; Natural Products; Oligosaccharide; Toll-like Receptors (TLR); Wheatgrass.