The multifaceted effects of polysaccharides isolated from Dendrobium huoshanense on immune functions with the induction of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) in monocytes

PLoS One. 2014 Apr 4;9(4):e94040. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094040. eCollection 2014.


Dendrobium huoshanense is a valuable and versatile Chinese herbal medicine with the anecdotal claims of cancer prevention and anti-inflammation. However, its immunological activities are limited to in vitro studies on a few cytokines and immune cell functions. First, we investigated the effects of polysaccharides isolated from DH (DH-PS) on inducing a panel of cytokines/chemokines in mice in vivo and human in vitro. We found that DH polysaccharides (DH-PS) induced TH1, TH2, inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in mouse in vivo and human cells in vitro. Secondly, we demonstrated that DH-PS expanded mouse splenocytes in vivo including CD4(+) T cells, CD8(+) T cells, B cells, NK cells, NKT cells, monocytes/macrophages, granulocytes and regulatory T cells. Notably, DH-PS induced an anti-inflammatory molecule, IL-1ra, in mouse and human immune cells, especially monocytes. The serum level of IL-1ra elicited by the injection of DH-PS was over 10 folds of IL-1β, suggesting that DH-PS-induced anti-inflammatory activities might over-ride the inflammatory ones mediated by IL-1β. The signaling pathways of DH-PS-induced IL-1ra production was shown to involve ERK/ELK, p38 MAPK, PI3K and NFκB. Finally, we observed that IL-1ra level induced by DH-PS was significantly higher than that by F3, a polysaccharide extract isolated from another popular Chinese herbal medicine, Ganoderma lucidum. These results indicated that DH-PS might have potential applications for ameliorating IL-1-induced pathogenic conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Dendrobium / chemistry*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / chemistry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune System Phenomena / drug effects
  • Immune System Phenomena / physiology
  • Immunologic Factors / immunology
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / metabolism*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Monocytes / metabolism*
  • Neutrophils
  • Plant Exudates / pharmacology
  • Polysaccharides / immunology
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Plant Exudates
  • Polysaccharides

Grant support

This work is supported by Academia Sinica and National Science Council grants for A.L. Yu (NSC 101-2325-B-001-025). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.