Phaseolus vulgaris lectins: A systematic review of characteristics and health implications

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Jan 2;58(1):70-83. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1096234. Epub 2017 Jul 11.


Legume lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins of non-immune origin. Significant amounts of lectins have been found in Phaseolus vulgaris beans as far back as in the last century; however, many questions about their potential biological roles still remain obscure. Studies have shown that lectins are anti-nutritional factors that can cause intestinal disorders. Owing to their ability to act as toxic allergens and hemagglutinins, the Phaseolus vulgaris lectins are of grave concern for human health and safety. Nonetheless, their potential beneficial health effects, such as anti-cancer, anti-human immunodeficiency virus (anti-HIV), anti-microbial infection, preventing mucosal atrophy, reducing type 2 diabetes and obesity, promoting nutrients absorption and targeting drugs, are of immense interest. The significance of Phaseolus vulgaris lectins in biological researches and the potential biomedical applications have placed tremendous emphasis on the development of purification strategies to obtain the protein in pure and stable forms. These purification strategies entail considerations such as effects of proteolysis, heating, gamma radiation, and high-hydrostatic-pressure that can have crucial outcomes in either eliminating or improving bioactivities of the lectins. Thus, up-to-date research findings of Phaseolus vulgaris lectins on different aspects such as anti-nutritional and health impacts, purification strategies and novel processing trends, are systematically reviewed.

Keywords: Lectin; Phaseolus vulgaris bean; beneficial and detrimental properties; processing; purification strategy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Diet*
  • Digestion
  • Drug Stability
  • Female
  • Food Handling / methods
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Intestinal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Male
  • Phytohemagglutinins / administration & dosage*
  • Phytohemagglutinins / isolation & purification
  • Phytohemagglutinins / toxicity*


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Phytohemagglutinins