, Volume 30, Issue 7, pp 641-657,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 09 Jan 2013

The immunomodulatory effect of plant lectins: a review with emphasis on ArtinM properties

Abstract

Advances in the glycobiology and immunology fields have provided many insights into the role of carbohydrate-protein interactions in the immune system. We aim to present a comprehensive review of the effects that some plant lectins exert as immunomodulatory agents, showing that they are able to positively modify the immune response to certain pathological conditions, such as cancer and infections. The present review comprises four main themes: (1) an overview of plant lectins that exert immunomodulatory effects and the mechanisms accounting for these activities; (2) general characteristics of the immunomodulatory lectin ArtinM from the seeds of Artocarpus heterophyllus; (3) activation of innate immunity cells by ArtinM and consequent induction of Th1 immunity; (4) resistance conferred by ArtinM administration in infections with intracellular pathogens, such as Leishmania (Leishmania) major, Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis, and Paracoccidioides brasiliensis. We believe that this review will be a valuable resource for more studies in this relatively neglected area of research, which has the potential to reveal carbohydrate targets for novel prophylactic and therapeutic strategies.