The immunologically active oligosaccharides isolated from wheatgrass modulate monocytes via Toll-like receptor-2 signaling

J Biol Chem. 2013 Jun 14;288(24):17689-97. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.448381. Epub 2013 Apr 29.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Gene Expression / immunology
  • Glucans / immunology
  • Glucans / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / immunology
  • Immunologic Factors / isolation & purification
  • Lectins, C-Type / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Oligosaccharides / immunology*
  • Oligosaccharides / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / immunology*
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2 / metabolism*
  • Triticum / chemistry*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD69 antigen
  • Cytokines
  • Glucans
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Plant Extracts
  • TLR2 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2
  • maltoheptaose