, Volume 70, Issue 4, pp 1097–1110 | Cite as

Plant-derived polysaccharides activate dendritic cell-based anti-cancer immunity

  • Siambi Kikete
  • Li Luo
  • Beitian Jia
  • Li Wang
  • Gregory Ondieki
  • Yuhong BianEmail author


Today, cancers pose a major public health burden. Although a myriad of cancer treatments are available, only a few have achieved clinical efficacy. This is partly attributed to cancers capability to evade host immunity by converting dendritic cells (DCs) from potent stimulators to negative modulators of immunity. Dendritic cell-based immunotherapy attempts to resolve this problem by manipulating the functional characteristics of DCs. Plant-derived polysaccharides (PDPs) can stimulate the maturation of DCs conferring on them the capacity to present internalised tumorigenic antigens to naïve T cells and subsequently priming T cells to eliminate tumours. PDPs have been used as immune modulators and later as anti-cancer agents by Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners for centuries. They are abundant in nature and form a large group of heterogeneous though structurally related macromolecules that exhibit diverse immunological properties. They can induce antigen pulsed DCs to acquire functional characteristics in vitro which can subsequently be re-introduced into cancer patients. They can also be used as adjuvants in DC-based vaccines or independently for their intrinsic anti-tumour activities. Clinically, some in vitro generated DCs have been shown to be both safe and immunogenic although their clinical application is limited in part by unsatisfactory functional maturation as well as impaired migration to draining lymph nodes where T cells reside. We review the relative potencies of individual PDPs to induce both phenotypic and functional maturation in DCs, their relative abilities to activate anti-cancer immunity, the possible mechanisms by which they act and also the challenges surrounding their clinical application.


Anti-tumour immunity Dendritic cell maturation Polysaccharides Toll-like receptors T cells 



This paper was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC No. 81573707) and The Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University (PCSIRT, No. IRT_14R41).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Siambi Kikete
    • 1
  • Li Luo
    • 2
  • Beitian Jia
    • 1
  • Li Wang
    • 3
  • Gregory Ondieki
    • 1
  • Yuhong Bian
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese MedicineTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Rheumatology and ImmunologyFirst Affiliated Hospital of Xinjiang Medical UniversityÜrümqiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Tianjin Second People’s HospitalTianjinPeople’s Republic of China

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