Curdlan, zymosan and a yeast-derived β-glucan reshape tumor-associated macrophages into producers of inflammatory chemo-attractants

Priscilla de Graaff*, Cor Berrevoets, Christiane Rӧsch, Henk A. Schols, Kees Verhoef, Harry J. Wichers, Reno Debets, Coen Govers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Anti-cancer T-cell responses are often halted due to the immune-suppressive micro-environment, in part related to tumor-associated macrophages. In the current study, we assessed indigestible β-glucans (oatβG, curdlan, grifolan, schizophyllan, lentinan, yeast whole glucan particles (yWGP), zymosan and two additional yeast-derived β-glucans a and b) for their physicochemical properties as well as their effects on the plasticity of human monocyte-derived macrophages that were polarized with IL-4 to immune-suppressive macrophages. Beta-glucans were LPS/LTA free, and tested for solubility, molecular masses, protein and monosaccharide contents. Curdlan, yeast-b and zymosan re-polarized M(IL-4) macrophages towards an M1-like phenotype, in particular showing enhanced gene expression of CCR7, ICAM1 and CD80, and secretion of TNF-α and IL-6. Notably, differential gene expression, pathway analysis as well as protein expressions demonstrated that M(IL-4) macrophages treated with curdlan, yeast-b or zymosan demonstrated enhanced production of chemo-attractants, such as CCL3, CCL4, and CXCL8, which contribute to recruitment of monocytes and neutrophils. The secretion of chemo-attractants was confirmed when using patient-derived melanoma-infiltrating immune cells. Taken together, the bacterial-derived curdlan as well as the yeast-derived β-glucans yeast-b and zymosan have the unique ability to preferentially skew macrophages towards a chemo-attractant-producing phenotype that may aid in anti-cancer immune responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-561
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number2
Early online date29 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Beta-glucans
  • Chemo-attractants
  • Chemokines
  • Macrophages


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