Beta-Glucan Enhances Action of Immune Cells

Medical Doctors and researchers at Brown Medical School and Rhode Island hospital have discovered that beta 1,3-D glucan, a natural compound derived from bakers yeast, binds to receptors on neutrophils, the most abundant type of immune cell in the body. The beta glucan caused the neutrophils to take a more direct path to the site of infection rather than the indirect route normally taken.

Neutrophils are attracted to the site of an infection by blood proteins called chemoattractants and are among the first cells of the body to respond to a challenge due to infection or injury. Normally, neutrophils use such chemoattractants as interleukin-8 to travel to the site of infection. However, when neutrophils were treated with beta 1,3-D glucan, the neutrophils bypassed the IL-8 and went directly to the source of infection. Beta 1,3-D appeared to accomplish this by increasing the neutrophils ability to sense complement fragments emanating from the site of an infection. As a result, beta glucan helps neutrophils locate the epicenter of the bacterial infection within tissue.

This ability to make neutrophils bypass IL-8 and go directly to the site of infection could result in a more rapid response to infection and a faster microbial clearance and healing, the researchers theorized. But, they said, further studies are needed to confirm whether expediting neutrophils journey to the infection site enhances immunity.

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Tsikitis VL, Albina JE, Reichner JS. -glucan affects leukocyte navigation in a complex chemotactic gradient. Surgery 2004;136:384-9.


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