Beta Glucan – Mushroom Derived
Beta glucan is a polysaccharide molecule found in several sources. For health purposes, its primary sources include oats, barley, mushrooms and yeast.
Researchers have studied all forms of beta glucan, which is found in more than one linkage type. Linkages of (1-3), (1-4) and (1-6) linkages are known to occur.
No one knows for sure whether or not the type of linkage or the size (length) of the polysaccharide is important in determining the activity of the various types of Beta glucan.
What is known, however, is that oats and barley, seem to have ability to lower cholesterol and blood sugar and not much else.
Mushroom-derived Beta-glucan has been used in Asia for centuries for health purposes. In fact, much of the mushroom Beta glucan research has been done in Asian research laboratories. Beta glucan derived from different mushrooms now has trade names, like Lentinan, Schizophyllan, Krestin and PSK.
Having standardized forms of mushroom Beta glucan can make it easier to compare research studies.
Most of the Beta glucan is derived from the fruiting bodies of mushrooms. Independent peer-reviewed studies have shown the therapeutic properties of mushroom Beta glucan help support immune system function and it has also been shown to stimulate tumor necrosis factor. In one study, these polysaccharides are able to turn on infection-fighting cytokines.
Another study on Lentinan, which comes from shiitake mushrooms, mice fed mushroom-derived Beta glucan were able to block colon cancer cell progression. Still another study showed that Beta glucans protected lymphocyte blood cells from undergoing DNA damage.
In addition, (1-3) Beta glucan result in the activation of macrophages that induce nitric oxide synthase, tumor necrosis factor and macrophage inhibitor proteins-all molecules that help macrophages kill off diseased cells or dangerous pathogens like viruses and bacteria.
A review article on mushroom-derived Beta glucan showed that different mushrooms exhibited differing effects so that some mushrooms appear to act more strongly against some health challenges then against others.
There is a large body of research showing activity of mushroom-derived Beta glucan against radiation, tumors and infection. There is very little research showing exactly how this type of Beta glucan does the kind of work it does. Nevertheless, it appears to have very different actions and activities from oat and barley Beta glucan.
However the immune response results of yeast-derived Beta glucan has shown to be more effective. It has also been shown to provide positive results on cholesterol and blood sugar challenged individuals. It is a powerful immune system support material. Yeast-derived Beta glucan is not a treatment for any disease or condition. It is an immunomodulator that has been shown to support immune system function.
- Borchers AT, et al. “Mushrooms, tumors and immunity.” Proc Soc Exp Biol Med . 1999 Sep;221(4):281-93.
- Katakoa K, et al. “Activation of macrophages by linear 1-3 beta D glucans, implications for the recognition of fungi by innate immunity.” J Biol Chem . 2002 Sep 27;277(39): 26825-31.
- Camellini CM, et al. “Stuctural characterization of beta-glucans of Agaricus brasiliensis in different stages of fruiting body maturity and their use in nutraceutical products.” Biotechnol Let . 2005 Sep;27(17):1295-9.
- Angeli JP, et al. “Protective effects of beta-glucan extracted from Agaricus brasiliensis against chemically induced DNA damage in human lymphocytes.” Cell Biol Toxicol . 2006 Jul;22(4):285-91.
- Pacheco-Sanchez M, et al. “A bioactive (1,3), (1,4) beta D glucan from Collybia dryophila and other mushrooms.” Mycologia . 2006 Mar-Apr;98(2):180-5.
- Ng ML, Yap AT. “Inhibition of human colon cancer development by Lentinan from shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes). J Altern Complement Med . 2002 Oct;8(5):581-9.
- Ooi VE, Liu, F. “Immunomodulation and anti-cancer activity of polysaccharide-protein complexes.” Curr Med Chem . 2000 Jul;7(7):715-29.