European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 111, Issue 9, pp 2033–2040 | Cite as

Pleuran (β-glucan from Pleurotus ostreatus) supplementation, cellular immune response and respiratory tract infections in athletes

  • Katarina Bergendiova
  • Elena Tibenska
  • Juraj MajtanEmail author
Original Article


Prolonged and exhausting physical activity causes numerous changes in immunity and sometimes transient increases the risk of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). Nutritional supplements as countermeasures to exercise-induced changes have increasingly been studied in the last decade. One of the most promising nutritional supplements is β-glucan, a well-known immunomodulator with positive effects on the function of immunocompetent cells. In this double blind, placebo-controlled study, we investigated the effect of pleuran, an insoluble β-(1,3/1,6) glucan from mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus, on selected cellular immune responses and incidence of URTI symptoms in athletes. Fifty athletes were randomized to pleuran or placebo group, taking pleuran (commercial name Imunoglukan®) or placebo supplements during 3 months. Venous whole blood was collected before and after 3 months of supplementation and additionally 3 months after supplementation period was completed. Incidence of URTI symptoms together with characterization of changes in phagocytosis and natural killer (NK) cell count was monitored during the study. We found that pleuran significantly reduced the incidence of URTI symptoms and increased the number of circulating NK cells. In addition, the phagocytosis process remained stable in pleuran group during the study in contrast to placebo group where significant reduction of phagocytosis was observed. These findings indicate that pleuran may serve as an effective nutritional supplement for athletes under heavy physical training. Additional research is needed to determine the mechanisms of pleuran function.


Beta-glucan Pleuran Natural killer cells Exercise Innate immunity Athletes 



We thank Prof. Miroslav Ferenčík (Faculty of Medicine, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia) and Prof. Dušan Hamar (Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia) for their valuable comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by Pleuran, s.r.o. (Bratislava, Slovakia).

Conflict of interest

Dr. Juraj Majtan has financial relationship with Pleuran, s.r.o. that sponsored the research. He has received sponsorship from Pleuran s.r.o. to attend scientific meetings.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katarina Bergendiova
    • 1
  • Elena Tibenska
    • 2
  • Juraj Majtan
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Pneumo-Alergo Centrum, s.r.o.BratislavaSlovakia
  2. 2.Department of Clinical ImmunologyMedirex a.s.BratislavaSlovakia
  3. 3.Institute of ZoologySlovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia
  4. 4.Department of MicrobiologySlovak Medical UniversityBratislavaSlovakia

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