Non-prescriptional use of medicinal herbs and supplements among cancer patients is common around the world. The alleged anti-cancer effects of most of these treatments are mainly based on studies derived from in vitro or in vivo animal experiments. Compiling in vitro, in vivo and the limited available human studies suggest that these treatments exert their biological effect either through cytotoxic or immunomodulatory mechanisms.

Active Hexose Correlated Compound 

Active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) is a fermented mushroom extract used for immune support. The product is an enzyme-fermented extract from the Basidiomycetes mushroom. Numerous human and animal studies on AHCC showed: decreased tumour formation, increased resistance to viral and bacterial infection, enhanced natural killer (NK) cell activity, increased dendritic cell function, increased T-cell proliferation, including altered T-cell activity, altered cytokine production, suppressed dexamethasone-induced thymic apoptosis in rats,  increased nitric oxide release by peritoneal cells, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and the potential to reverse abnormal cervical cancer cells. Numerous studies have documented and supported the safety of AHCC and chemotherapy adjacent treatment.

AHCC has shown benefit with liver, lung, stomach, colon, breast, thyroid, ovarian, testicular, tongue, kidney and pancreatic cancers as well as leukaemia.

AHCC has also shown effectiveness against many types of viruses, bacteria and fungi.

Research Studies:

Gao, Y., Zhang, D., Sun, B., Fujii, H., Kosuna, K. I., & Yin, Z. (2006). Active hexose correlated compound enhances tumor surveillance through regulating both innate and adaptive immune responses. Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy55(10), 1258–1266.


Active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) is a mixture of polysaccharides, amino acids, lipids and minerals derived from cocultured mycelia of several species of Basidiomycete mushrooms. AHCC has been implicated to modulate immune functions and plays a protective role against infection. However, the potential role of AHCC in tumor immune surveillance is unknown. In this study, C57BL/6 mice were orally administered AHCC or water, followed by tumor cell inoculation. We showed that compared to pure water-treated mice, AHCC treatment significantly delayed tumor development after inoculation of either melanoma cell line B16F0 or lymphoma cell line EL4. Treatment with AHCC enhanced both Ag-specific activation and proliferation of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, increased the number of tumor Ag-specific CD8(+) T cells, and more importantly, increased the frequency of tumor Ag-specific IFN-gamma producing CD8(+) T cells. Interestingly, AHCC treatment also showed increased cell number of NK and gammadelta T cells, indicating the role of AHCC in activating these innate-like lymphocytes. In summary, our results demonstrate that AHCC can enhance tumor immune surveillance through regulating both innate and adaptive immune responses.

Ulbricht, C., Brigham, A., Bryan, J. K., Catapang, M., Chowdary, D., Costa, D., … Windsor, R. C. (2013). An evidence-based systematic review of active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Journal of Dietary Supplements10(3), 264–308.


An evidence-based systematic review of active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration consolidates the safety and efficacy data available in the scientific literature using a validated, reproducible grading rationale. This article includes written and statistical analysis of clinical trials, plus a compilation of expert opinion, folkloric precedent, history, pharmacology, kinetics/dynamics, interactions, adverse effects, toxicology, and dosing.

Beta - 1,3 D Glucan

β-glucans are found in bacterial and fungal cell walls and have been implicated to initiate anti-microbial immune responses. Most studies on β-glucans have been in vitro on vivo animal studies. These have shown that β-glucans trigger a group of immune cells including macrophages, neutrophils, monocytes, natural killer cells and dendritic cells. They also play a role in enhancing opsonic phagocytosis. Human studies are primarily inconclusive due to the limitations presented by β-glucan crude extracts rather than purified compounds. This hinders conclusive findings as other chemical interactions cannot be ruled out. However, β-glucan action nutritionally aids the body, particularly when the immune cell population is being reduced or limited by a disease condition, or such treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. Therefore, although no direct cancer-modulating role has been established the ability to increase immune cells is invaluable in the treatment and management of cancer patients.

Research studies:

Qi, C., Cai, Y., Gunn, L., Ding, C., Li, B., Kloecker, G., … Yan, J. (2011). Differential pathways regulating innate and adaptive antitumor immune responses by particulate and soluble yeast-derived ??-glucans. Blood117(25), 6825–6836.


β-glucans have been reported to function as a potent adjuvant to stimulate innate and adaptive immune responses. However, β-glucans from different sources are differential in their structure, conformation, and thus biologic activity. Different preparations of β-glucans, soluble versus particulate, further complicate their mechanism of action. Here we show that yeast-derived particulate β-glucan activated dendritic cells (DCs) and macrophages via a C-type lectin receptor dectin-1 pathway. Activated DCs by particulate β-glucan promoted Th1 and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte priming and differentiation in vitro. Treatment of orally administered yeast-derived particulate β-glucan elicited potent antitumor immune responses and drastically down-regulated immunosuppressive cells, leading to the delayed tumor progression. Deficiency of the dectin-1 receptor completely abrogated particulate β-glucan-mediated antitumor effects. In contrast, yeast-derived soluble β-glucan bound to DCs and macrophages independent of the dectin-1 receptor and did not activate DCs. Soluble β-glucan alone had no therapeutic effect but significantly augmented antitumor monoclonal antibody-mediated therapeutic efficacy via a complement activation pathway but independent of dectin-1 receptor. These findings reveal the importance of different preparations of β-glucans in the adjuvant therapy and allow for the rational design of immunotherapeutic protocols usable in clinical trials.

Queiroz, E. a. I. F., Fortes, Z. B., da Cunha, M. a. a., Barbosa, A. M., Khaper, N., & Dekker, R. F. H. (2015). Antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic effects of three fungal exocellular β-glucans in MCF-7 breast cancer cells is mediated by oxidative stress, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and the Forkhead transcription factor, FOXO3a. The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology67, 14–24.


Fungal  - d -glucans of the (1 → 3)-type are known to exhibit direct antitumor effects, and can also indi- rectly decrease tumor proliferation through immunomodulatory responses. The underlying molecular mechanisms involved in decreasing tumor formation, however, are not well understood. In this study, we examined the antiproliferative role and mechanism of action of three different fungal exocellular  - glucans in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. The  -glucans were obtained from Botryosphaeria rhodina MAMB-05 [two botryosphaerans; (1 → 3)(1 → 6)-  - d -glucan; one produced on glucose, the other on fructose] and Lasiodiplodia theobromae MMPI [lasiodiplodan; (1 → 6)-  - d -glucan, produced on glucose]. Using the cell proliferation-MTT assay, we showed that the  -glucans exhibited a time- and concentration-dependent antiproliferative activity (IC 50 , 100  g/ml). Markers of cell cycle, apoptosis, necrosis and oxidative stress were analyzed using flow cytometry, RT-PCR and Western blotting. Exposure to  -glucans increased apo- ptosis, necrosis, oxidative stress, mRNA expression of p53, p27 and Bax; the activity of AMP-activated protein-kinase, Forkhead transcription factor FOXO3a, Bax and caspase-3; and decreased the activ- ity of p70S6K in MCF-7 cells. In the presence of hydrogen peroxide, the fungal  -glucans increased oxidative stress, which was associated with reduced cell viability. We showed that these  -glucans exhibited an antiproliferative effect that was associated with apoptosis, necrosis and oxidative stress. This study demonstrated for the first time that the apoptosis induced by  -glucans was mediated by AMP-activated protein-kinase and Forkhead transcription factor, FOXO3a. Our findings provide novel mechanistic insights into their antiproliferative roles, and compelling evidence that these  -glucans possess a broad range of biomodulatory properties that may prove useful in cancer treatment.

Medicinal Mushrooms

Maitake, reishi and shiitake are all medicinal mushrooms with scientifically studied immune modulating and cytotoxic effects. Various constituents in these mushrooms, including Beta-glucans, have shown positive results independently and in combination with other cancer treatments to increase immune response and decrease tumour load.

Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is a black parasitic fungus produced on the living trunks of mature birch trees. The mushroom looks like burnt charcoal. It draws its nutrients out from the living trees. After 5-7 years, the chaga mushroom causes death to the host; therefore, it is called ‘birch cancer’ in Russia. The fungi digest food outside of their bodies by releasing enzymes into the surrounding environment, breaking down organic matter into a form the fungus can then absorb.

A look at the research on chaga shows a similar pattern with respect to its effect on tumours.

Chaga has been researched as an antiviral, anti-tumour for breast, uterine and other cancers, diabetes, immunity/longevity (strengthening the immune system and increasing the vital force), as an immune amphoteric, for reducing the blood pressure and slowing down the heart rate.

Some experts claim chaga is the best anti-cancer mushroom of all. Properties and ingredients of chaga include:

  • Polysaccharides that enhance the immune system, treat cancer, live, HIV virus and other bacterial and viral infections
  • Betulinic acid to counteract viral infections and tumours. The anti- cancer properties of betulin or betulinic acid, a chemical obtained from birch bark, is now being studied for use as a chemotherapeutic agent
  • Triterpenes to lower cholesterol, improve circulation, detoxify the liver, treat hepatitis, bronchitis, asthma, and coughs
  • Germanium (a free-radical scavenger) to cleanse the blood, normalise blood pressure and prevent tumours
  • Other nucleosides, phytonutrients, minerals and amino acids including saponin, magnesium, chromium, iron, kalium, beta-glucan, inotodiol, isoprenoid, and others
  • Inonotus obliquus causes cell replication cycle (mitosis) arrest at G0/G1 phase, thereby initiating apoptosis,and induced cell differentiation.

Chaga mushroom can be made into a tea or bought as a ready-made supplement.

Ganoderma Reishi Mushroom Ling Zhi, Mannentake, "The Mushroom of Immortality"

This is one of the great longevity tonics of Chinese Medicine used in cancer treatment in Traditional and Modern Chinese Medicine to improve vitality, strength and stamina and to prolong life. Reishi enhances immune response, alleviates chemotherapy side effects such as nausea and kidney damage and protects cellular DNA by raising antioxidant capacity.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidium) contains polysaccharides that are effective in suppressing cancer cells. Dr Fukumi Morishiga at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine took a hot water extract of Reishi (which concentrates the active ingredients much more than you will find in retail products) and showed that when used in conjunction with vitamin C (which humans, unlike animals, cannot make), macrophage activity was greatly stimulated. In his paper he showed that all manner of cancers from brain tumours to breast cancer regressed over time. Some cancers even disappeared.

Previous studies showed that Reishi  (Ganoderma lucidium), restricted blood vessels to prostate cancer tumours and stopped cancer cell proliferation.

In a paper published last year in the US's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, a team of scientists linked its use to cancer-cell death. The team from the Taiwanese research centre Academia Sinica, found that F3 polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrate molecule found in reishi mushrooms, can induce antibodies to recognise and kill antigens associated with tumours or cancer cells.

Ganoderma lucidum extract shows potential antitumor and chemoprevention effects on three types of breast cancer: estrogen-receptor dependent, oestrogen-receptor independent, and inflammatory. (1)

  • Immunemodulation:

The proliferation, maturation and activities of both T and B lympocytes, NK cells and dendritic cells improved significantly during both lab and animal tests when taking Reishi. Beta-glucan is the most constituent for immune support.

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome:

A multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in China. A Reishi extract was administered for 8 weeks, resulting in a reduced sense of fatigue and improved quality of life. This again confirms Reishi's effect on the immune system.

  • Anti-viral and anti-bacterial actions:

Polysaccharide-bound proteins (glycoproteins, comparable to the PSK and PSP fractions in Coriolus versicolor) from Reishi showed inhibitory effects on Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1), Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 (HSV-2), and Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV - New Jersey strain) in a lab test.

  • Anti-ulcer properties

The Helicobacter Pylori, the bacteria that causes e.g. peptic ulcers and gastritis (and is probably also involved in the development of stomach cancers) was inhibited in its growth by a Reishi extract.

Coriolus versicolor (Trametes versicolor) "Turkey tail Mushroom" Yun Zhi

This is one of the most well-researched medicinal mushrooms in the world. It is a biological response modifier. Turkey Tail has been used in Chinese Medicine as a tonic for centuries. Studies show that it improves survival rates and acts as an immune modulator with immune stimulating and anti-tumor properties. Some studies show that it can enhance the effects of chemotherapy cancer treatment and reduce the side effects of radiation therapy.

Cordyceps sinensis increases ATP (adenosine triphosphate) levels in the body by almost 28 per cent. ATP is the body's energy supply source—the body's battery, so to speak—and is required for all enzyme processes.

MD Anderson’s website covers research on gastric cancer, lymphoma, leukaemia and lung cancer cell lines being suppressed by extracts of coriolus.

Coriolus versicolor is able to make the shift from TH2 to TH1 through its polysaccharides peptides.  If a body moves from TH1 response to TH2 and then does not shift back, the system becomes locked into an inflammatory state. This is bad. The reduction in TH1 levels means a reduction in NK cells and the body’s ability to destroy cancer cells.  The TH2 inflammatory response stimulates the creation of new blood vessels around damaged tissues and this can lead to tumour growth.

Coriolus versicolor also increases Natural Killer cells, and CD8+ T-cells (a type of white blood cell) that can kill cancer cells

Coriolus Versicolor has been shown to activate T-lymphocyte production, macrophage activity and other immune system functions.

The Coriolus extract, PSP, has been shown to have immune boosting and modulating effects and anticancer properties in both pre-clinical experiments and clinical trials.

It has been shown to reduce the side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Cordyceps sinensis Chinese Caterpillar Fungus Dong Chong Xia Cao

Cordyseps.sinensis is a fungus that has been used for over 2000 years in China as a treatment for a variety of conditions including cancer. Many available evidences suggest that the efficacy of C. sinensis as an anti-neoplastic therapeutic agent is due to its role as an activator of immune responses.

Cordyceps acts an immune stimulator by raising cancer and virus fighting T Cells and Natural Killer Cells.  It prolongs the life of white blood cells and improves resolution of infections. It has demonstrated anti-tumor properties and also protects the kidneys from chemotherapy side effects. It is one of the most widely used tonics in anti-cancer formulas in Chinese Medicine.

Cordyceps sinenosis is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal mushroom that can also paralyse insects and provide potent antibiotics! The first recorded use was in the 15th century. It is used in Taiwan and China in the treatment of diabetes, as an anti-depressant, and in the treatment of cancer.

Cordyceps sinenosis is a potent antioxidant, thus protecting cells from free radical damage. Free radical damage is a process in which free electrons damage our cells and our DNA and is thought to be a primary factor in the aging process.  Additionally, when DNA  (genetic material) in the cells is damaged,  the risk of cancer increases.  CS has been shown to enhance the production of Glutathione and SOD. These are protective, natural antioxidants produced in our cells to protect against free radical damage and oxidation.

Cordyceps sinenosis demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties.  Inflammation is a factor common to many diseases including cancer.  Supporting the management of inflammation modulates our immune system. In particular, CS has been shown to suppress the production of COX-2, NFkB and TNFa. These inflammatory molecules are present in cancer cells and many other disease processes.

Some studies have shown that CS prevents metastasis by inhibiting angiogenesis; the process by which tumor cells make new blood vessels, allowing tumors to grow in size, allowing cancer cells to enter the blood stream and travel to other parts of the body.

Agaricus blazei

Several studies have shown that beta glucans from these mushrooms (Agaricus blazei) can alter cytokine and T- and B-cell activity. This prompted the view that the mushrooms would not just be applicable to fighting solid tumour cancers, but also in fighting blood cancers where the white cells themselves were in trouble (like leukaemia).

  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-viral

Agarics blazei has the highest level of polysaccharides of all medicinal mushrooms.

Harmful micro-organisms, bacteria and viruses will be neutralized by the immune system before they can cause infections and inflammations.

Research showed ABM extract to be very effective in inhibiting the infectivity of the common Herpes Simplex virus (HSV-1) (over 75% decrease) and the Bovine Herpes virus (BoHV-1) (over 51% decrease)

  • Anti-tumor properties

Research showed that Agaricus blazei has anti-angiogenic (inhibits the formation of new blood-vessels to the tumour) properties. It inhibits the enzyme aromatase, which is associated with the development of breast cancer.

  • Liver protective and detoxifying properties:

Agarics blazei extracts have a detoxifying, blood purifying effect that can help rid the body of dangerous toxins and restore a healthful balance.

Furthermore, research found ABM extracts to have a significant positive effect on patients with chronic Hepatitis B and C. Studies show supplementation can also improve liver enzymes such as bilirubin, SGOT and SGPT.

How to chose a medicinal mushroom supplement:

The most important factor is to look for a supplement with a high bioavalibility of their ingredients for example: betulinic acid, beta-glucan.

Medicinal mushrooms are mostly useless unless they’ve been subject to processing. They have to have undergone a process of extraction otherwise, they are basically indigestible and therefore have no noteworthy therapeutic effects.

The reason of the limited bioavailability is because of what the mushrooms cells (Chitin) are made off. Chitin is the hardest, all-natural material known to man. Locked in the chitin cell-walls are the bioactive and therapeutically interesting components.

That is why medicinal mushrooms need to undergo an extraction technique to release the bioactive components. Mushroom products used in scientific research studies are always mushroom extracts.

Unfortunately, supplement labels are very difficult to decipher and very often misleading.

Chitin is the allergen in mushrooms and mushroom extracts no longer contain chitin. However, immuno-modulating substances should be used with extreme care or avoided completely in organ-transplant patients utilizing immuno-suppressive agents.

Research studies:

Patel, S., & Goyal, A. (2012). Recent developments in mushrooms as anti-cancer therapeutics: a review. 3 Biotech2(1), 1–15.


From time immemorial, mushrooms have been valued by humankind as a culinary wonder and folk medicine in Oriental practice. The last decade has witnessed the overwhelming interest of western research fraternity in pharmaceutical potential of mushrooms. The chief medicinal uses of mushrooms discovered so far are as anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, hypocholesterolemic, anti-tumor, anti-cancer, immunomodulatory, anti-allergic, nephroprotective, and anti-microbial agents. The mushrooms credited with success against cancer belong to the genus Phellinus, Pleurotus, Agaricus, Ganoderma, Clitocybe, Antrodia, Trametes, Cordyceps, Xerocomus, Calvatia, Schizophyllum, Flammulina, Suillus, Inonotus, Inocybe, Funlia, Lactarius, Albatrellus, Russula, and Fomes. The anti-cancer compounds play crucial role as reactive oxygen species inducer, mitotic kinase inhibitor, anti-mitotic, angiogenesis inhibitor, topoisomerase inhibitor, leading to apoptosis, and eventually checking cancer proliferation. The present review updates the recent findings on the pharmacologically active compounds, their anti-tumor potential, and underlying mechanism of biological action in order to raise awareness for further investigations to develop cancer therapeutics from mushrooms. The mounting evidences from various research groups across the globe, regarding anti-tumor application of mushroom extracts unarguably make it a fast-track research area worth mass attention.



Cancer is a substantial world health threat, & a largest cause of death in peoples of various age groups and economic backgrounds. This dramatic increase in the global burden of cancer has spurred research and many pharmacological studies as a n attempt to limit the progression of this disease. Painful, expensive chemotherapy by dietary supplements have come forth as a novel significant approach in ailment of cancer. Since ancient times mushrooms has been used a good resource of dietary suppleme nt. Mushroom is attributed by many medicinal properties, due to presence of phytochemicals, antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral, antimicrobial, anti - diabetic, anti - inflammatory etc. bioactive compounds in fruiting bodies and cultured mycelium. Polysaccharid es and antioxidant have been extensively studied biologically active compounds of mushroom for their cytotoxic as well as immunomodulation properties. In this review we will highlight the recent findings on anticancereous bioactive compounds of mushroom, t heir therapeutic potentials and mode of action and the need for further investigation in cancer management .

Iscador® (Mistletoe)

Mistletoe is one of the widely studied alternative medicines for cancer. Mainly used in European countries, Iscador is a brand name product containing an extract made from the European mistletoe; a semi parasitic plant that grows on several types of trees.

Extracts of mistletoe have been proven to kill cancer cells in the laboratory, boost the immune system and prevent the growth of new blood vessels needed for tumors to grow (angiogenesis). Iscador extracts are usually administered via injection underneath the skin. Limited side effects, including slight inflammation at the injection site and low-grade fever are considered normal immune reactions. Lack of these reactions is an indicator of immune compromisation. Iscador is considered an immune provocative therapy because although administered locally it stimulates the whole immune system.

Iscador provides following benefits:

  • Improvements in general condition  and vitality
  • Restoration of normal sleep pattern
  • Improvement in mental state
  • Improvement in quality of life
  • Reducing adverse effects from chemotherapy
  • Inhibition of malignant growth, anti-angiogenesis
  • Immune-modulator effects
  • Reducing the risk of recurrences and metastases.

The table below shows the recommended type of mistletoe by Iscador Weleda.

Research studies:

Melzer, J., Iten, F., Hostanska, K., & Saller, R. (2010). Systematic review of Viscum album (mistletoe) preparations for cancer. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies15(2), 124–125.

Siegle, I., Fritz, P., McClellan, M., Gutzeit, S., & Mürdter, T. E. (2001). Combined cytotoxic action of Viscum album agglutinin-1 and anticancer agents against human A549 lung cancer cells. Anticancer Research21(4 A), 2687–2691.

BACKGROUND: Viscum album agglutinin-1 (VAA-1) is assumed to be the biologically most active ingredient of misteltoe extracts that are often used as adjuvant cancer therapy. To develop new approaches for lung cancer treatment, we evaluated the antineoplastic activity of VAA-1 alone and in combination with other chemotherapeutic drugs, including doxorubicin, cisplatin and taxol in the human lung carcinoma cell line A549. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Cytotoxicity was determined by 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) ELISA-assays and drug interaction assessed by the isobologram method. Analysis of cell cycle distribution was obtained using flow cytometry. RESULTS: For all drug combinations tested the outcome was additive with the combination of VAA-1 and cycloheximide showing strong synergistic effects. Moreover, VAA-1 induced G1-phase accumulation mechanisms without causing apoptosis. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that the simultaneous administration of VAA-1 with all anticancer agents tested is advantageous since cytotoxic effects are enhanced. These data may provide new clinicalperspectives in future mistletoe therapy.


GcMAF is the combination of the Gc protein, also know as the vitamin D3 binding protein and macrophage-activating factor (MAF). GcMAF works as an immune regulator that ‘directs’ macrophages to mutated or abnormal cells. Cells containing viruses or malignant, cancerous cells produce and enzyme called α-N acetylgalactosaminidase (Nagalase), which inhibits the production of GcMAF leading to immunosuppression. Supplementation of GcMAF considerably increases macrophage activity, increasing their recognition and variation of receptors present on abnormality or malignant cell surfaces. GcMAF leads to highly tumoricidal macrophages. Treatment has shown to be highly effective in reducing nagalase levels, which are proportional to tumor burden. One study showed that after 14 to 25 week administration all 16 patients in their study showed nagalase levels equivalent to healthy individuals, indicating they were tumour-free.

It is very important to check patients Nagalase levels before starting therapy with GcMAF. The success of the treatment depends on a high Nagalase level in the blood.

Research studies:

Pacini, S. E. Al, & STEFANIA PACINI et al. (2012). Effects of Vitamin D-binding Protein-derived Macrophage-activating Factor on Human Breast Cancer Cells, 52, 45–52. Retrieved from


Searching for additional therapeutic tools to fight breast cancer, we investigated the effects of vitamin D-binding protein-derived macrophage activating factor (DBP-MAF, also known as GcMAF) on a human breast cancer cell line (MCF-7). Materials and Methods: The effects of DBP-MAF on proliferation, morphology, vimentin expression and angiogenesis were studied by cell proliferation assay, phase-contrst microscopy, immunohistochemestry and western blotting, and chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay. Results: DBP-MAF inhibited human breast cancer cell proliferation and cancer cell-stimulated angiogenesis. MCF-7 cells treated with DBP-MAF predominantly grew in monolayer and appeared to be well adherent to each other and to the well surface. Exposure to DBP-MAF significantly reduced vimentin expression, indicating a reversal of the epithelial/mesenchymal transition, a hallmark of human breast cancer progression. Conclusion: These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the known anticancer efficacy of DBP-MAF can be ascribed to different biological properties of the molecule that include inhibition of tumour-induced angiogenesis and direct inhibition of cancer cell proliferation, migration and metastatic potential.

Thyer, L., Ward, E., Smith, R., Fiore, M. G., Magherini, S., Branca, J. J. V, … Pacini, S. (2013). A novel role for a major component of the vitamin D axis: Vitamin D binding protein-derived macrophage activating factor induces human breast cancer cell apoptosis through stimulation of macrophages. Nutrients5(7), 2577–2589.


The role of vitamin D in maintaining health appears greater than originally thought, and the concept of the vitamin D axis underlines the complexity of the biological events controlled by biologically active vitamin D (1,25(OH)(2)D3), its two binding proteins that are the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and the vitamin D-binding protein-derived macrophage activating factor (GcMAF). In this study we demonstrate that GcMAF stimulates macrophages, which in turn attack human breast cancer cells, induce their apoptosis and eventually phagocytize them. These results are consistent with the observation that macrophages infiltrated implanted tumors in mice after GcMAF injections. In addition, we hypothesize that the last 23 hydrophobic amino acids of VDR, located at the inner part of the plasma membrane, interact with the first 23 hydrophobic amino acids of the GcMAF located at the external part of the plasma membrane. This allows 1,25(OH)(2)D3 and oleic acid to become sandwiched between the two vitamin D-binding proteins, thus postulating a novel molecular mode of interaction between GcMAF and VDR. Taken together, these results support and reinforce the hypothesis that GcMAF has multiple biological activities that could be responsible for its anti-cancer effects, possibly through molecular interaction with the VDR that in turn is responsible for a multitude of non-genomic as well as genomic effects.


MGN3 is an immune system booster that is manufactured using a patented process, which hydrolyzes rice bran with the enzymatic extract from three different medicinal mushrooms: shiitake, kawaratake and suehirotake. It claims to increase natural killer cell activity, increase apoptosis and exert an antioxidant effect. MGN3 contains various active ingredients, however, Arabinoxylane compound, a natural immune complex, has been well documented to increase natural killer cell function.

MGN3 can also be used to lessen the toxic side effects of conventional cancer treatment.

This supplement has been developed by Dr Mamdooh Ghoneum, an Egyptian immunologist at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. This natural immune enhancer, marketed in the USA by Lane Labs, Inc. has increased the lifespan of terminally ill cancer patients by more than 60% according to a recent study. Over 200 patients with a variety of terminal cancers were evaluated for 18 months. Patients given MGN3 plus conventional therapies recorded a 59% survival rate, while those on conventional therapies alone recorded a 33.9% survival rate. (The study, conducted by Dr. Kihachiro Takahara, MD at Japan's respected Sano Surgical Clinic, was presented at the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society of Complementary & Alternative Medicine.

MGN3 can also be used to lessen the toxic side effects of conventional cancer treatment.

Research studies:

Cholujova, D., Jakubikova, J., Czako, B., Martisova, M., Hunakova, L., Duraj, J., … Sedlak, J. (2013). MGN-3 arabinoxylan rice bran modulates innate immunity in multiple myeloma patients. Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy : CII62(3), 437–45.


Dendritic cells (DCs) and natural killer (NK) cells are central components of innate immunity for controlling tumor growth. The therapeutic effects of certain anti-myeloma drugs are partially mediated by targeting the innate immune response. In addition, novel types of natural compounds have been developed that efficiently modulate the activity of both the cellular and humoral compartments of immunity. MGN-3 is known as an activator of natural killer cells, inducer of apoptosis and cytokine production, and modulator of dendritic cell maturation and differentiation in vitro. We have performed a randomized, placebo-controlled study to examine the effects of MGN-3 on innate immune system parameters in 48 multiple myeloma patients. We performed immunophenotypic analysis of peripheral blood samples, determined NK cell activity, and assessed the cytokine profiles of plasma before and during 3 months of treatment. The results demonstrate a clear increase in NK activity in MGN-3-treated patients compared to the placebo group, an increased level of myeloid DCs in peripheral blood, and augmented concentrations of T helper cell type 1-related cytokines. The present study suggests that MGN-3 may represent an immunologically relevant product for activating innate immunity in multiple myeloma patients and warrants further testing to demonstrate clinical efficacy.

Ghoneum, M., & Gollapudi, S. (2003). Modified arabinoxylan rice bran (MGN-3/Biobran) sensitizes human T cell leukemia cells to death receptor (CD95)-induced apoptosis. Cancer Letters201(1), 41–49.


MGN-3, an arabinoxylan extracted from rice bran that is treated enzymatically with an extract from Shiitaki mushrooms, is an effective biological response modifier that increases NK cell activity, and potentiates the activity of conventional chemotherapeutic agents. In this study, we investigated the effect of MGN-3 on death receptor-induced apoptosis in the human leukemic HUT 78 cell line. HUT 78 cells were pre-treated with MGN-3, and then were incubated with the agonistic antibody against death receptor (Fas, CD95). Apoptosis was determined by the propidium iodide technique using FACScan. Activation of caspase 3, caspase 8, and caspase 9 was determined by flow cytometry. Mitochondrial membrane potential was measured with DIOC6 dye using FACScan. Expression of CD95 and Bcl-2 were measured by flow cytometry. In a dose-dependent manner, MGN-3 enhanced anti-CD95 antibody-induced apoptosis. Increased cell death was correlated with increased depolarization of mitochondrial membrane potential and increased activation of caspase 3, caspase 8, and caspase 9. MGN-3 treatment had no effect on the level of expression of CD95, but it caused down regulation of Bcl-2 expression. These results suggest that MGN-3 increases the susceptibility of cancer cells to undergo apoptosis mediated by death ligands, which may be relevant for anti-cancer activities.

Vitamin C

High dose intravenous vitamin C has shown to have a chemotherapeutic effect on cancer cells.

Vitamin C function:

  • Vitamin C can neutralise and eliminate a wide range of toxins
  • Induces apoptosis and cell death mechanisms
  • Improves immune surveillance and tumour recognition
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Recycles glutathione, our body’s master antioxidant
  • Immune stimulation
  • Increases absorption of nutrients
  • Provides energy in cellular chemistry.

Due the extremely wide range of medical uses for vitamin C, it is interesting to note that cancer patients normally present with very low vitamin C levels.

Almost all animals synthesis vitamin C from glucose and this may explain why vitamin C has a very similar chemical structure to glucose. Due to cancer cells’ anaerobic respiration they require much more glucose to meet their energy needs. To compensate for this they have an increased number of glucose receptors on the membrane of the cell. These receptors actively transport vitamin C into the cancer cell, thinking it is glucose. In large doses vitamin begins accumulating in cancer cells and due to the extraordinary quantities a normally antioxidant substance starts behaving in a pro-oxidative way. Due to vitamins C’s affinity to iron and copper, it reacts intracellular with these and produces hydrogen peroxide. As hydrogen peroxide begins to accumulate it causes cell lyses. Therefore, extremely high doses of vitamin C will build up as peroxide in the cancer cells causing cell death in a manner similar to chemotherapy.

Supplementing vitamin C orally limits the dose to bowel tolerance. Whereas doses required for a chemotherapeutic effects need to have blood concentrations 200 times higher than possible through oral dosing.

Research studies:

Fritz, H., Flower, G., Weeks, L., Cooley, K., Callachan, M., McGowan, J., … Seely, D. (2014). Intravenous Vitamin C and Cancer: A Systematic Review. Integrative Cancer Therapies13(4), 280–300.


Intravenous vitamin C (IVC) is a contentious adjunctive cancer therapy, widely used in naturopathic and integrative oncology settings. We conducted a systematic review of human interventional and observational studies assessing IVC for use in cancer patients. Methods. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library, CINAHL, and AMED from inception to April 2013 for human studies examining the safety, effectiveness, or pharmacokinetics of IVC use in cancer patients. Results. Of 897 records, a total of 39 reports of 37 studies were included: 2 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), 15 uncontrolled trials, 6 observational studies, and 14 case reports. IVC dosing ranged from 1 g to more than 200 g ascorbic acid per infusion, typically administered 2 to 3 times weekly. IVC does not appear to increase toxicity or interfere with antitumor effects of gemcitabine/erlotinib therapy or paclitaxel and carboplatin. Based on 1 RCT and data from uncontrolled human trials, IVC may improve time to relapse and possibly enhance reductions in tumor mass and improve survival in combination with chemotherapy. IVC may improve quality of life, physical function, and toxicities associated with chemotherapy, including fatigue, nausea, insomnia, constipation, and depression. Case reports document several instances of tumor regression and long-term disease-free survival associated with use of IVC. Conclusion. There is limited high-quality clinical evidence on the safety and effectiveness of IVC. The existing evidence is preliminary and cannot be considered conclusive but is suggestive of a good safety profile and potentially important antitumor activity; however, more rigorous evidence is needed to conclusively demonstrate these effects. IVC may improve the quality of life and symptom severity of patients with cancer, and several cases of cancer remission have been reported. Well-designed, controlled studies of IVC therapy are needed.

Roberts, B. M., Fullerton, D. R., Elliott, S. L., Roberts, B. M., Fullerton, D. R., & Elliott, S. L. (2015). the intrinsic and extrinsic pathways pathways. BIOS86(3), 134–143.


Although cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates in the developed world have significantly declined over the past 30 years, it is still the second leading cause of death in women aged 19-39 years. Novel developments of chemotherapeutic agents for cervical cancer are important in reducing patient mortality rates. Recent chemotherapeutic developments have begun to manipulate the apoptotic pathway. L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is generally considered an antioxidant at normal physiological levels (60–80 l M), but considered a pro-oxidant at much higher concentrations ( > 1 mM). Due to its pro-oxidant effects, in the 1970s L-ascorbic acid underwent clinical trials as an anticancer treatment at high intravenous concentrations (1-2 mM), and presented ambiguous results. In the last 5 years, L-ascorbic acid has been re-investigated in in vitro cancerous cell lines, and has exhibited a selective toxicity in cancerous cells. This investigation aimed to characterize the mechanism of cell death induced by L-ascorbic acid in the human cervical cancer cell line HeLa. We evaluated cell viability over time and caspase-3, -8 and - 9 activity after the induction of HeLa cells with L-ascorbic acid (5-10 mM). We hypothesized that high concentrations (5–10 mM) of L-ascorbic acid would induce cell death via an intrinsic apoptotic pathway. The results indicate that 7 mM and 10 mM of L-ascorbic acid induce cell death via an extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathway. Implications of the generation of hydrogen peroxide via L-ascorbic acid are discussed. The findings suggest that L-ascorbic acid could be a potential therapeutic agent for cervical cancer when administered intravenously at high concentrations (7-10 mM).


Astragalus membranaceous has been around in Chinese medicine for two thousand years. It is known as ´haung qi´, or chi, because it boosts natural body energy levels. Astragalus is taken from the root of a perennial plant (Astragalus membranaceous) needing four to seven years to mature before the root is harvested in early spring.

Its wide usage in China as an immune system booster brought interest from Europe, Japan and America. Original Chinese studies dated back to 1981, when a study by Hou et al showed that Astragalus taken orally induced greater quantities of interferon and leukocytes in the blood stream.

It has phenomenal immune system modulating effects. In tests at the Hiroshima School of Medicine in Japan, it was shown to directly increase B-lymphocyte and T-lymphocyte levels, interleukin and antibody production.

But, not only does it increase the number of various white cells and in particular the ´hunter´ T-cells it also helps identify the viruses, bacteria and other rogue cells. The University of Texas has shown that Astragalus seems to be an adaptogenic herb ´offering up´ viruses, bacteria and even cancer cells to be seen by the immune system.

Astragalus contains bioflavonoids, choline and a polysaccharide, astragalan B, amongst other active ingredients. Astragalan B controls bacterial infection, viruses and other such ´rogue´ bodies by binding to their outer membranes. This has two effects it weakens their internal systems, and by sitting on the membrane it thus helps the T-cells identify rogue cells.

Researchers from the University of Texas, Houston, have reported that cancer patients receiving Astragalus have twice the survival rate of those only receiving placebos.

There is strong scientific evidence that Astralagus benefits liver function (often impaired in the cancer sufferer).

In China, Astragalus is widely used in the treatment of hepatitis. It seems to reduce toxin levels significantly, boost interferon levels and inhibit viral protein expression whilst having little or no effect on normal DNA.

MD Anderson Cancer Center (Texas) researchers reported that cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy had twice the survival rates if they took astragalus during the treatment.

Astralagus is routinely provided to patients receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and apart from boosting the immune system (which of course both orthodox treatments damage) it also seems to stop the spread of malignant cancer cells to secondary healthy tissues.

The active constituent of astragalus, formononetin, was shown to inhibit colon cancer cell growth by facilitating apoptosis through caspase activation and the suppression of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL proteins. Similar effects were seen on mesothelial cells as well.

There are no known conflicting effects with drugs.

The dose of raw astragalus root is 9–30g (Pharmacopoeia 2005), but a daily dose as high as 90g was used safely in children with acute leukemia.

Since astragalus products are not standardized based on their bioactivity, no equivalent doses have been established.

Research Studies:

Wang, T., Xuan, X., Li, M., Gao, P., Zheng, Y., Zang, W., & Zhao, G. (2013). Astragalus saponins affect proliferation, invasion and apoptosis of gastric cancer BGC-823 cells. Diagnostic Pathology8(1), 179.


Astragalus memebranaceus is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine used in treatment of common cold, diarrhea, fatigue, anorexia and cardiac diseases. Recently, there are growing evidences that Astragalus extract may be a potential anti-tumorigenic agent. Some research showed that the total saponins obtained from Astragalus membranaceus possess significant antitumorigenic activity. Gastric cancer is one of the most frequent cancers in the world, almost two-thirds of gastric cancer cases and deaths occur in less developed regions. But the effect of Astragalus membranaceus on proliferation, invasion and apoptosis of gastric cancer BGC-823 cells remains unclear.

METHODS: Astragalus saponins were extracted. Cells proliferation was determined by CCK-8 assay. Cell cycle and apoptosis were detected by the flow cytometry. Boyden chamber was used to evaluate the invasion and metastasis capabilities of BGC-823 cells. Tumor growth was assessed by subcutaneous inoculation of cells into BALB/c nude mice.

RESULTS: The results demonstrated that total Astragalus saponins could inhibit human gastric cancer cell growth both in vitro and in vivo, in additional, Astragalus saponins deceased the invasion ability and induced the apoptosis of gastric cancer BGC-823 cells.

CONCLUSIONS: Total Astragalus saponins inhibited human gastric cancer cell growth, decreased the invasion ability and induced the apoptosis. This suggested the possibility of further developing Astragalus as an alternative treatment option, or perhaps using it as adjuvant chemotherapeutic agent in gastric cancer therapy.

Yeung, K. S., Gubili, J., & Cassileth, B. R. (2011). Evidence-based Anticancer Materia Medica, 65–84.


Astragalus membranaceus (astragalus), originally described in the Shennong’s Classic of Materia Medica two thousand years ago, is used as a Qi-tonifying herb in traditional Chinese medicine. It is an important ingredient in many herbal formulas used to treat a variety of symptoms and ailments including fatigue and rectal prolapse. The root of astragalus is rich in saponins and polysaccharides. Modern research suggests antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and cytostatic properties. Animal and anecdotal human data show that astragalus reduces immunosuppression, a side effect of chemotherapy and it may also enhance the effects of such treatments. Whereas oral and parenteral preparations have been developed in Asia, products containing astragalus are consumed as dietary supplements in the West. Several formulas containing astragalus have been studied in cancer patients. Data indicate that they are safe to use in conjunction with chemotherapy and reduce treatment associated adverse effects. Based on existing evidence, there is also substantial interest in developing astragalus-based preparations for certain cancers. Although all products studied to date contain astragalus as the main ingredient, the variation across formulas makes it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. Future studies should address this issue. Astragalus is generally considered safe for traditional use, but the potential for herb-drug interactions exists because botanicals contain biologically active compounds. This chapter presents information about the use of astragalus in traditional medicine and summarizes existing scientific evidence of its benefits and limitations as an adjuvant cancer treatment.


Dozens of studies confirm aloe's anti-cancer activity — linked to acemannan's immune-stimulating properties and glycoprotein, as well as anthraquinone and phenolic antioxidants. Acemannan is a substance found in aloe vera leaves.

Aloe vera boosts immune function and destroys cancer tumors. Scientific research shows strong immuno- modulatory and antitumor properties for aloe vera polysaccharides. That means the gel helps boosts immune system function while destroying cancer.

One study published in International Immunopharmacology showed that aloe vera polysaccharides exhibited potent macrophage-activating activities including producing increased volumes of nitric oxide (which has antitumor potential).

An AIDS study provides one of the most dramatic clinical proofs about aloe. Nearly everyone in the study who was on the daily aloe regimen got better, as indicated by skyrocketing white T-cell counts.

Researchers found Aloe arborescens is 75% richer in anti-cancer properties than Aloe vera. Other studies suggest the two species are interchangeable. More research is needed to to verify this.

Benefits of Aloe:

  • Optimal Immune function fortification and rejuvenation support for a healthy and vital immune system.
  • Aloe Polysaccharides (acemannan) stimulate and modulate the number and macrophage (natural killer cell (NK) activity of  white blood cells) that ingest and destroy viruses, bacteria and disregulated cells.
  • Aloe plant Glucomannan saccharides activate immune response through increased expression of  interleukin-1, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor (decay or rot)
  • Aloe Anthraquinone constituents promote healthy blood and gentle whole body cleansing of toxicity from pathogens, heavy metals and chemicals.
  • Aloe components stimulate intestinal motility to help normalize the function and structure of  the gastrointestinal digestive system, which reduces stress on the immune system.
  • Improves cellular metabolism and increases overall energy production
  • Promotes cardiovascular, colon and blood sugar level health

Research studies:

Tomasin, R., & Gomes-Marcondes, M. C. C. (2011). Oral administration of Aloe vera and honey reduces Walker tumour growth by decreasing cell proliferation and increasing apoptosis in tumour tissue. Phytotherapy Research : PTR25(4), 619–23.


Cancer is diagnosed in approximately 11 million people and is responsible for almost 8 million deaths worldwide every year. Research in cancer control has shown the importance of co-adjuvant therapies. Aloe vera may reduce tumour mass and metastasis rates, while honey may inhibit tumour growth. This study verified the influence of Aloe vera and honey on tumour growth and in the apoptosis process by assessing tumour size, the cell proliferation rate (Ki67-LI) and Bax/Bcl-2 expression at 7, 14 and 20 days after Walker 256 carcinoma implant in Wistar rats distributed into two groups: the WA group - tumour-bearing rats that received a gavage with a 670 µL/kg dose of Aloe vera and honey solution daily, and the CW group - tumour-bearing rats which received only a 0.9% NaCl solution. The effect of Aloe vera and honey against tumour growth was observed through a decrease in relative weight (%) and Ki67-LI in tumours from the WA group compared with those from the CW group. The Bax/Bcl-2 ratio increased in tumours from the WA group at all tested timepoints. These data suggest Aloe vera and honey can modulate tumour growth by reducing cell proliferation and increasing apoptosis susceptibility.

Chen, S.-H., Lin, K.-Y., Chang, C.-C., Fang, C.-L., & Lin, C.-P. (2007). Aloe-emodin-induced apoptosis in human gastric carcinoma cells. Food and Chemical Toxicology : An International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association45(11), 2296–303.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the anticancer effect of aloe-emodin, an anthraquinone compound present in the leaves of Aloe vera, on two distinct human gastric carcinoma cell lines, AGS and NCI-N87. We demonstrate that aloe-emodin induced cell death in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Noteworthy is that the AGS cells were generally more sensitive than the NCI-N87 cells. Aloe-emodin caused the release of apoptosis-inducing factor and cytochrome c from mitochondria, followed by the activation of caspase-3, leading to nuclear shrinkage and apoptosis. In addition, exposure to aloe-emodin suppressed the casein kinase II activity in a time-dependent manner and was accompanied by a reduced phosphorylation of Bid, a downstream substrate of casein kinase II and a pro-apoptotic molecule. These preclinical studies suggest that aloe-emodin represents a suitable and novel chemotherapeutic drug candidate for the treatment of human gastric carcinoma.


Astaxanthin is a naturally-occurring carotenoid found in algae, shrimp, lobster, crab and salmon. Carotenoids are pigment colours that occur in nature and support good health. Astaxanthin is responsible for turning salmon, crab, lobster and shrimp flesh pink. In the animal kingdom, astaxanthin is found in the highest concentration in the muscles of salmon. Scientists theorise astaxanthin helps provide the endurance these remarkable animals need to swim upstream. For humans, astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant with broad health implications and unlike other antioxidants, such as beta carotene, zeaxanthin, vitamin E, C, D and selenium, astaxanthin never becomes pro-oxidant in the body.

A March 2010 NIH study concluded that Astaxanthin modulates immune response, inhibits cancer cell growth, reduces bacterial load and gastric inflammation, and protects against UVA-induced oxidative stress in in vitro and rodent models. From the study:   “Dietary astaxanthin stimulated mitogen-induced lymphoproliferation, increased natural killer cell cytotoxic activity, and increased total T and B cell subpopulations, but did not influence populations of Thelper, Tcytotoxic or natural killer cells. A higher percentage of leukocytes expressed the LFA-1 marker in subjects given 2 mg astaxanthin on wk 8. Subjects fed 2 mg astaxanthin had a higher tuberculin response than unsupplemented subjects. There was no difference in TNF and IL-2 concentrations, but plasma IFN-gamma and IL-6 increased on wk 8 in subjects given 8 mg astaxanthin.
Conclusion: Therefore, dietary astaxanthin decreases a DNA damage biomarker and acute phase protein, and enhances immune response in young healthy females.”

Another slant on the immune benefits of Astaxanthin is seen in a study involving Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium commonly found in the stomach that can lead to ulcers and ultimately, stomach cancer. There has been quite a lot of research on Astaxanthin’s positive effects in reducing H. pylori. In this particular study, the author states that “Recent experimental studies, both in vivo and in vitro, have shown that vitamin C and astaxanthin, a carotenoid, are not only free radical scavengers but also show antimicrobial activity against H. pylori. It has been shown that astaxanthin changes the immune response to H. pylori by shifting the Th1 response towards a Th2 T-cell response”.

Because Astaxanthin can actually change the immune response, it is very effective at reducing H. pylori, which can help prevent certain types of gastric cancer and other stomach ailments.After proving immune system enhancement in mice, Dr. Chew moved on to study the effect in humans. In a double blind, placebo controlled human clinical, Dr. Chew and his team showed that Astaxanthin is a strong immune system stimulator.

The study showed that Astaxanthin:

  • Stimulates lymphocyte proliferation
  • Increases the total number of antibody producing B-cells
  • Produces increased number of T-cells
  • Amplifies natural killer cell cytotoxic activity
  • Significantly increases delayed-type hypersensitivity response
  • Dramatically decreases DNA damage

To summarize, these results show that Astaxanthin works through many different pathways to support healthy immune function in humans (Chew, et al, 2003).
Dr. Chew along with Dr. J.S. Park wrote a summary article entitled “Carotenoid Action on the Immune Response” in which they spoke very highly about Astaxanthin’s advantages for tumor immunity. They stated that “Even though astaxanthin, canthaxanthin and beta carotene inhibited tumor growth, astaxanthin showed the highest anti-tumor activity”.

Research Studies:

Park, J. S., Chyun, J. H., Kim, Y. K., Line, L. L., & Chew, B. P. (2010). Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans. Nutrition & Metabolism7, 18.


BACKGROUND: Astaxanthin modulates immune response, inhibits cancer cell growth, reduces bacterial load and gastric inflammation, and protects against UVA-induced oxidative stress in in vitro and rodent models. Similar clinical studies in humans are unavailable. Our objective is to study the action of dietary astaxanthin in modulating immune response, oxidative status and inflammation in young healthy adult female human subjects.

METHODS: Participants (averaged 21.5 yr) received 0, 2, or 8 mg astaxanthin (n = 14/diet) daily for 8 wk in a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Immune response was assessed on wk 0, 4 and 8, and tuberculin test performed on wk 8.

RESULTS: Plasma astaxanthin increased (P < 0.01) dose-dependently after 4 or 8 wk of supplementation. Astaxanthin decreased a DNA damage biomarker after 4 wk but did not affect lipid peroxidation. Plasma C-reactive protein concentration was lower (P < 0.05) on wk 8 in subjects given 2 mg astaxanthin. Dietary astaxanthin stimulated mitogen-induced lymphoproliferation, increased natural killer cell cytotoxic activity, and increased total T and B cell subpopulations, but did not influence populations of Thelper, Tcytotoxic or natural killer cells. A higher percentage of leukocytes expressed the LFA-1 marker in subjects given 2 mg astaxanthin on wk 8. Subjects fed 2 mg astaxanthin had a higher tuberculin response than unsupplemented subjects. There was no difference in TNF and IL-2 concentrations, but plasma IFN-gamma and IL-6 increased on wk 8 in subjects given 8 mg astaxanthin.

CONCLUSION: Therefore, dietary astaxanthin decreases a DNA damage biomarker and acute phase protein, and enhances immune response in young healthy females.