Induction of immunopotentiation activity by a protein-bound polysaccharide, PSK (review).

Sakagami H, Aoki T, Simpson A, Tanuma S.

First Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine, Showa University, Tokyo, Japan.


A protein-bound polysaccharide, PSK, extracted from the mycelium of Coriolus versicolor (Fr.) Quel, has been recognized for its host-mediated induction of antitumor and antimicrobial activities in mice. Intravenous administration of PSK, in association with OK-432 (Picibanil), transiently induced endogenous production of a cytotoxic factor (CF) (possibly tumor necrosis factor, TNF) in normal mice. The ability to produce CF depended greatly on both dose and interval between administration of the PSK and OK-432. Although PSK has been reported to contain several active ingredients, unfractionated PSK has been used in almost all experiments performed so far. We recently reported that, of the four subfractions separated by successive filtration through membrane filters, only the highest molecular weight fraction F4 (MW greater than 200 kD) induced significant antimicrobial activity in mice. PSK stimulated the NBT-reducing activity of mouse peritoneal macrophages and the iodination (incorporation of radioactive iodine into an acid-insoluble fraction) of human peripheral blood polymorphonuclear cells (PMN). Among the subfractions of PSK, the highest molecular weight fraction F4, and the fraction precipitated at pH 4.0-4.5 (Fr. 4), stimulated macrophage NBT-reducing activity and PMN iodination most. In contrast, natural and chemically modified glucans had little or no stimulating activity. PSK, F4 or Fr. 4 additively or synergistically stimulated TNF-induced cytotoxicity against L-929 cells, differentiation of human myelogenous leukemia cell lines toward monocytes/macrophages, and iodination of human peripheral blood PMN. The active PSK subfractions significantly reduced the down regulation of specific 125I-TNF or 125I-IFN-gamma binding to cellular receptors. These data suggest that (i) immunopotentiation activity of PSK might be ascribed, at least in part, to stimulation of cytokine action and production, and (ii) PSK might have some unique structural features.

PMID: 2064356 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]