Natural products, useful in treating or preventing various diseases, have been sought throughout the history of mankind. Most of these natural products are plagued with a common problem, i.e., the fact that they often represent a complex mixture of individual ingredients, each of which can contribute to their biological activities. Natural (1,3)-?-
D-glucans from yeast, grain and mushrooms are well-established
biological response modifiers, representing highly conserved structural components of cell walls in yeast, fungi, seaweed, or grain seeds.
Numerous types of glucans have been isolated from almost every species of yeast, grain and fungi. (1,3)- ?-Dglucans have been extensively studied for their immunological and pharmacological effects. More than 2,000 papers describing the biological activities of glucans exist in the literature.3 Another advantage of glucans is the fact that all
sufficiently purified polysaccharidic immunomodulators distinguish themselves by very low toxicity (e.g., for mouse lentinan has LD50 > 1600 mg/kg4). Despite detailed knowledge of the activities of many
glucans, limited information is available regarding the mechanisms of action by orally delivered glucans. For some time, there were even suggestions that orally administered glucans have no activity at all. Only recently has more information about the mechanisms of action of orally delivered glucans become available.
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