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International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms
IF: 1.423 5-Year IF: 1.525 SJR: 0.433 SNIP: 0.661 CiteScore™: 1.38

ISSN Print: 1521-9437
ISSN Online: 1940-4344

International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms

DOI: 10.1615/InterJMedicMush.v5.i2.10
16 pages

Immunomodulatory Activities of Mushroom Glucans and Polysaccharide–Protein Complexes in Animals and Humans (A Review)

Neil J. Rowan
Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, University of Strathclyde, 204 George Street, Glasgow G1 1XW, Scotland, UK
John E. Smith
Department of Bioscience&Biotechnology University of Strathclyde Royal College, Building 204 George Street Glasglow, Scotland, UK; and Mycobiotech Pte Ltd., Singapore Science Part, Singapore
Richard Sullivan
Head of Clinical Programmes, Cancer Research UK, PO Box 123, Lincoln’s Inn Field, London WC2A 3PX, UK


This review discusses current information on the ability of extracts from medicinal mushrooms to stimulate or modulate animal and human immune responses. Numerous bioactive polysaccharides or polysaccharide-protein complexes from medicinal mushrooms are described that appear to enhance innate and cell-mediated immune responses and exhibit antitumor activities in animals and humans. Stimulation of host immune defense systems by bioactive polymers from medicinal mushrooms has significant effects on the maturation, differentiation, and proliferation of many kinds of immune cells in the host. Many of these mushroom polymers were reported previously to have immunotherapeutic properties by facilitating growth inhibition and destruction of tumor cells. Recent research has also shown that some of these mushroom-derived polymers may possess direct cytotoxic effects on cancer cells. Although the mechanism of their antitumor actions is still not completely understood, stimulation and modulation of key host immune responses by these mushroom polymers appears central. Recent evidence suggests that mushroom polymers (b-glucans) may trigger the stimulation of many kinds of immune cells in animals and humans by binding to a specific cellular receptor known as complement receptor type 3 or CR3.

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