Immunoregulatory Activity of the Natural Product Laminarin Varies Widely as a Result of Its Physical Properties

Document Type


Publication Date



Ligation of Dectin-1 by fungal glucans elicits a Th17 response that is necessary for clearing many fungal pathogens. Laminarin is a (1→3, 1→6)-b-glucan that is widely reported to be a Dectin-1 antagonist, however, there are reports that laminarin is also a Dectin-1 agonist. To address this controversy, we assessed the physical properties, structure, purity, Dectin-1 binding, and biological activity of five different laminarin preparations from three different commercial sources. The proton nuclear magnetic resonance analysis indicated that all of the preparations contained laminarin although their molecular mass varied considerably (4400-34,400 Da). Two of the laminarins contained substantial quantities of very low m.w. compounds, some of which were not laminarin. These low m.w. moieties could be significantly reduced by extensive dialysis. All of the laminarin preparations were bound by recombinant human Dectin-1 and mouse Dectin-1, but the affinity varied considerably, and binding affinity did not correlate with Dectin-1 agonism, antagonism, or potency. In both human and mouse cells, two laminarins were Dectin-1 antagonists and two were Dectin-1 agonists. The remaining laminarin was a Dectin-1 antagonist, but when the low m.w. moieties were removed, it became an agonist. We were able to identify a laminarin that is a Dectin-1 agonist and a laminarin that is Dectin-1 antagonist, both of which are relatively pure preparations. These laminarins may be useful in elucidating the structure and activity relationships of glucan/Dectin-1 interactions. Our data demonstrate that laminarin can be either a Dectin-1 antagonist or agonist, depending on the physicochemical properties, purity, and structure of the laminarin preparation employed.