Antitumor polysaccharides from mushrooms: a review on the structural characteristics, antitumor mechanisms and immunomodulating activities

Carbohydr Res. 2016 Apr 7:424:30-41. doi: 10.1016/j.carres.2016.02.008. Epub 2016 Mar 2.


Mushrooms are popular folk medicines that have attracted considerable attention because of their efficient antitumor activities. This review covers existing research achievements on the mechanisms of isolated mushroom polysaccharides, particularly (1→3)-β-D-glucans. Our review also describes the function in modulating the immune system and potential tumor-inhibitory effects of polysaccharides. The antitumor mechanisms of mushroom polysaccharides are mediated by stimulated T cells or other immune cells. These polysaccharides are able to trigger various cellular responses, such as the expression of cytokines and nitric oxide. Most polysaccharides could bind other conjugate molecules, such as polypeptides and proteins, whose conjugation always possess strong antitumor activities. The purpose of this review is to summarize available information, and to reflect the present situation of polysaccharide research filed with a view for future direction.

Keywords: Antitumor; Folk medicine; Mechanism; Mushroom polysaccharide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / chemistry
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use
  • Agaricales / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Carbohydrate Conformation
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation / drug effects*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Polysaccharides / therapeutic use


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Polysaccharides