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The use of mushroom glucans and proteoglycans in cancer treatment.

Immunoceuticals can be considered as substances having immunotherapeutic efficacy when taken orally. More than 50 mushroom species have yielded potential immunoceuticals that exhibit anticancer activity in vitro or in animal models and of these, six have been investigated in human cancers. All are non-toxic and very well tolerated. Lentinan and schizophyllan have little oral activity. Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) is poorly defined but has shown early clinical promise. Maitake D-Fraction has limited proof of clinical efficacy to date, but controlled research is underway. Two proteoglycans from Coriolus versicolor – PSK (Polysaccharide-K) and PSP (Polysaccharide-Peptide – have demonstrated the most promise. In Japanese trials since 1970, PSK significantly extended survival at five years or beyond in cancers of the stomach, colon-rectum, esophagus, nasopharynx, and lung (non-small cell types), and in a HLA B40-positive breast cancer subset. PSP was subjected to Phase II and Phase III trials in China. In double-blind trials, PSP significantly extended five-year survival in esophageal cancer. PSP significantly improved quality of life, provided substantial pain relief, and enhanced immune status in 70-97 percent of patients with cancers of the stomach, esophagus, lung, ovary, and cervix. PSK and PSP boosted immune cell production, ameliorated chemotherapy symptoms, and enhanced tumor infiltration by dendritic and cytotoxic T-cells. Their extremely high tolerability, proven benefits to survival and quality of life, and compatibility with chemotherapy and radiation therapy makes them well suited for cancer management regimens.[…]

Immunomodulation and anti-cancer activity of polysaccharide-protein complexes.

In the last three decades, numerous polysaccharides and polysaccharide-protein complexes have been isolated from mushrooms and used as a source of therapeutic agents. The most promising biopharmacological activities of these biopolymers are their immunomodulation and anti-cancer effects. They are mainly present as glucans with different types of glycosidic linkages such as (1–>3), (1–>6)-beta-glucans and (1–>3)-alpha-glucans, and as true herteroglycans, while others mostly bind to protein residues as polysaccharide-protein complexes. Three antitumor mushroom polysaccharides, i.e. lentinan, schizophyllan and protein-bound polysaccharide (PSK, Krestin), isolated respectively, from Lentinus edodes, Schizophyllum commune and Coriolus versicolor, have become large market items in Japan. Lentinan and schizophyllan are pure beta-glucans, whereas PSK is a protein-bound beta-glucan. A polysaccharide peptide (PSP), isolated from a strain of Coriolus versicolor in China, has also been widely used as an anti-cancer and immunomodulatory agent. Although the mechansim of their antitumor action is still not completely clear, these polysaccharides and polysaccharide-protein complexes are suggested to enhance cell-mediated immune responses in vivo and in vitro and act as biological response modifiers. Potentiation of the host defense system may result in the activation of many kinds of immune cells that are vitally important for the maintenance of homeostasis. Polysaccharides or polysaccharide-protein complexes are considered as multi-cytokine inducers that are able to induce gene expression of vaious immunomodulatory cytokines and cytokine receptors. Some interesting studies focus on investigation of the relationship between their structure and antitumor activity, elucidation of their antitumor mechanism at the molecular level, and improvement of their various biological activities by chemical modifications.[…]

Susceptibility of natural killer (NK) cells to reactive oxygen species (ROS) and their restoration by the mimics of superoxide dismutase (SOD).

Natural killer (NK) cells are susceptible to reactive oxygen species (ROS), and lose the activity by the effects of ROS. Cancer bearing hosts usually suffer from oxidative stress (OS), and the NK-activity decreases to a significantly lower level than normal controls. Superoxide dismutase (SOD)-mimicking substances, such as protein-bound polysaccharide of Coriolus versicolor (Fr) QUEL (PSK) and iron-chelating chlorine e6-Na (FeCNa), can restore the NK-activity of cancer bearing hosts, when collaborating with catalase. Incorporation of 3H-thymidine by ROS-treated NK-cells is not affected, indicating that these cells are still active in the nucleic acid metabolism. Intraperitoneal administration of anti-Asialo GM1 antibody extinguished the NK-activity. NK-cells affected by ROS lost the adherence to target cancer cells in both in vitro and in vivo. ROS may change the surface charge of NK-cells to anionic, resulting in an inability of adhesion to target cancer cells which usually show the negative surface charge.[…]

Effect of polysaccharide krestin on glutathione peroxidase gene expression in mouse peritoneal macrophages.

Polysaccharide krestin (PSK) is a protein-bound polysaccharide extracted from the sporophore Coriolus versicolor. Previously, we found that PSK could reduce the oxidative injury that oxidised low-density lipoprotein (Ox-LDL) produced in monocytes/macrophages, and therefore have some pro-phylactic or therapeutic effect on atherosclerosis. Glutathione peroxidases, including selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase (SeGPx) and non-selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase (non-SeGPx, also called glutathione S-transferase [GST]), play an important role in the defence against oxidative injury. In order to find out if the effects of PSK were associated with antioxidant enzymes, we investigated its effect on glutathione peroxidase activity and messenger RNA (mRNA) expression in mouse peritoneal macrophages. Results showed that PSK enhanced SeGPx and non-SeGPx activity, and increased SeGPx and GST-P (pi class GST) mRNA in mouse peritoneal macrophages. In addition, the induction by PSK of the two glutathione peroxidases could be blocked by cycloheximide (30 micrograms/mL), but 5 micrograms/mL actinomycin D and 50 micrograms/mL acetovanilone (a superoxide inhibitor) had no effect. We conclude that PSK improved glutathione peroxidase activity through transcriptional induction of mRNA expression.[…]

Polysaccharide Krestin enhances manganese superoxide dismutase activity and mRNA expression in mouse peritoneal macrophages.

Manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), an inductive antioxidant enzyme, can protect cells from oxidative injury to the mitochondria. The elevation of MnSOD activity in cells can effectively prevent many diseases associated with oxidative stress. Polysaccharide Krestin (PSK), a kind of protein-bound polysaccharide extracted from Coriolus versicolor, is used as an immune response modifier in anti-tumor therapy. We have previously found that PSK could alleviate the oxidative injury that oxidized low density lipoprotein (Ox-LDL) brought to monocytes/macrophages, and therefore had some preventive or therapeutic effect on atherosclerosis. In order to find out if the effects of PSK were associated with the alteration ofantioxidant enzymes, we investigated its effect on MnSOD activity and gene expression in mouse peritoneal macrophages. The results showed that PSK could enhance SOD activity and increase the contents ofMnSOD mRNA in mouse peritoneal macrophages. Furthermore, the induction of MnSOD by PSK could be blocked by cycloheximide and actinomycin D.[…]

Anticancer effects and mechanisms of polysaccharide-K (PSK): implications of cancer immunotherapy.

Polysaccharide-K (polysaccharide-Kureha; PSK), also known as krestin, is a unique protein-bound polysaccharide, which has been used as a chemoimmunotherapy agent in the treatment of cancer in Asia for over 30 years. PSK and Polysaccharopeptide (PSP) are both protein-bound polysaccharides which are derived from the CM-101 and COV-1 strains of the fungus Coriolus versicolor by Japanese and Chinese researchers, respectively. Both polysaccharide preparations have documented anticancer activity in vitro, in vivo and in human clinical trials, though PSK has been researched longer and has therefore undergone more thorough laboratory, animal and clinical testing. Several randomized clinical trials have demonstrated that PSK has great potential as an adjuvant cancer therapy agent, with positive results seen in the adjuvant treatment of gastric, esophageal, colorectal, breast and lung cancers. These studies have suggested the efficacy of PSK as an immunotherapy or biological response modifier (BRM). BRMs potentially have the ability to improve the “host versus tumor response,” thereby increasing the ability of the host to defend itself from tumor progression. The mechanisms of biological response modification by PSK have yet to be clearly and completely elucidated. Some studies suggest that PSK may act to increase leukocyte activation and response through up-regulation of key cytokines. Indeed, natural killer (NK) and lymphocyte-activated killer (LAK) cell activation has been demonstrated in vivo and in vitro, and recent genetic studies reveal increased expression of key immune cytokines in response to treatment with PSK. An antimetastatic action of PSK has also been demonstrated and is perhaps attributed to its potential to inhibit metalloproteinases and other enzymes involved in metastatic activity. PSK has also been shown to cause differentiation of leukemic cells in vitro, and this effect has been attributed to induction of differentiation cytokines. PSK has further been shown to have antioxidant capacity which may allow it to play a role as a normal tissue chemo- and radio-protector when used in combination with adjuvant or definitive chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy in the treatment of cancer, while it may also enable it to defend the host from oxidative stress. Interestingly, studies have also shown that PSK may actually inhibit carcinogenesis by inhibiting the action of various carcinogens on vulnerable cell lines. This action of PSK may play a role in preventing second primary tumors when an inducing agent, such as tobacco or asbestos, is suspected and may also prevent second malignancies due to the carcinogenic effects of radiotherapy and cytotoxic chemotherapy. Another very important aspect of chemoimmunotherapy, in general is that it may be used on debilitated patients such as those with AIDS and the elderly who might otherwise be denied potentially helpful adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy. Further determination of the mechanisms of these anti-cancer, immunostimulating and biological response modifying effects of PSK as well as of other protein-bound polysaccharides is certainly warranted. Indeed, with modern cellular and molecular biology techniques, a better understanding of the specific molecular effects of PSK on tumor cells as well as leukocytes may be determined. Much of the research that has been done on PSK is outlined in this paper and may serve as a foundation toward determining the mechanisms of action of this and other protein-bound polysaccharides in the treatment of cancer. This information may open new doors in the development of novel strategies for the treatment of malignancies using adjuvant immunotherapy in combination with surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.[…]

Dose intensity of uracil and tegafur in postoperative chemotherapy for patients with poorly differentiated gastric cancer

A retrospective analysis of postoperative chemotherapy had shown the continuous administration of UFT, an oral preparation of 1-(2-tetrahydrofuryl)-5-¯uorouracil (tegafur) and uracil at a molar ratio of 1:4, to be e€ective for poorly di€erentiated gastric cancer. We therefore sought to determine prospectively the effective dose of postoperative chemotherapy with UFT for patients with poorly di€erentiated gastric cancer following a curative resection. We determined […]

Comparsion of Anti-cancer Effect between two kinds of Polysaccharide Peptide of Coriolus versicolor on Human Tumor Cell Lines in Vitro

In the present study the anti-cancer effect of polysaccharide peptide of Coriolus versicolor Cov-1 (PSP) was compared with polysaccharide peptide of Coriolus versicolor CM-101 (PSK) on four human tumor cell line targets (SGC 7901, stomach cancer cell; SPC, human lung adenocarcinoma cell; SLY, human monocytic leukemia cell and Mei, human skin histiocytic lymphoma cell) in Vitro. […]


To elucidate the effects of PSK, a protein-bound polysaccharide from Coriolus versicolor, on gene expression in tumor cells, we prepared cDNA clone libraries from PSKtreated and untreated cells of a rat ascites hepatoma line, AH66, which was previously shown to be susceptible to the antitumor action of this compound. Two PSK-induced and one suppressed cDNA clones […]

Clinical study of biological response modifiers as maintenance therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma.

We conducted a randomized, controlled trial comparing 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) with or without biological response modifiers (BRMs) as a maintenance therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after treatment with percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI), transcatheter arterial embolization (TAE) or arterial infusion of antitumor agents (AI). A total of 58 cases of HCC were classified into 4 groups as follows: group I, PSK with 5-FU (n = 15); group II, lentinan with 5-FU (n = 15); group III, OK-432 with 5-FU (n = 12); and group IV, 5-FU alone as the control (n = 16). The mean survival time, mortality rate, time to progression […]