β‐1,3/1,6‐glucans and Immunity: State of the Art and Future Directions
The innate immune system responds in a rapid and non‐specific manner against immunologic threats; inflammation is part of this response. This is followed by a slower but targeted and specific response termed the adaptive or acquired immune response. There is emerging evidence that dietary components, including yeast‐derived β‐glucans, can aid host defense against pathogens by modulating inflammatory and antimicrobial activity of neutrophils and macrophages. Innate Immune Training refers to a newly recognized phenomenon wherein compounds may “train” innate immune cells, such that monocyte and macrophage precursor biology is altered to mount a more effective immunological response. Although various human studies have been carried out, much uncertainty still exists and further studies are required to fully elucidate the relationship between β‐glucan supplementation and human immune function. This review offers an up‐to‐date report on yeast‐derived β‐glucans as immuno‐modulators, including a brief overview of the current paradigm regarding the interaction of β‐glucans with the immune system. The recent pre‐clinical work that has partly decrypted mode of action and the newest evidence from human trials, are also reviewed. According to pre‐clinical studies, β‐1,3/1,6‐glucan derived from Baker’s Yeast may offer increased immuno‐surveillance, although the human evidence is weaker than that gained from pre‐clinical studies.