β-D-glucans belong to a group of natural, physiologically active compounds, generally called biological response modifiers. Glucans represent highly conserved structural components of cell walls in yeast, fungi, or seaweed. Despite long history of research, the exact mechanisms of glucan action remain unsolved. The present review starts with the history of glucans. Next, the detailed information about the possible glucan sources is followed by a description of the mechanisms of action. Physiological functions of glucan suggest the possible use of glucans not only as non-specific immunomodulator, but also as its possible future use as a drug.
Glucan, saccharides, immune system, macrophages, CR3, yeast
University of Louisville, Department of Pathology, 511 S. Floyd, MDR Bldg., Rm. 224, Louisville, KY 40202, USA.