(1-3)-beta-D-glucan - How moulds can make you ill

  • major component of the cell wall of fungi, also found in some bacteria and plants
  • a glucan is a type of polysaccharide made up soley of a bunch of D-glucose molecules linked together in a particular manner
  • thought to be responsible for annoying respiratory symptoms in people exposed to indoor mould infestations (when suspended as a bioaerosol)
  • experimental data is not conclusive, but a positive association between exposure to (1-3)-beta-D-glucan and both general (fatigue and headache) and respiratory (nose and throat irritation and cough) symptoms has been found in a wide variety of workplaces
  • is considered to be the fungal equivalent of bacterial endotoxin (i.e. lipopolysaccharide), a toxic fat-sugar hybrid molecule found in the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria that can set off the immune system and the coagulation cascade, leading to terrible things like fever, disseminated intravascular coagulation (whee, excessive bleeding!), shock, and even death
  • has been used as a biological marker for the diagnosis of invasive fungal infection
Iossifova YY et al. 2007. House dust (1-3)-beta-D-glucan and wheezing in infants. Allergy. 62(5):504-513.

2 chemically inspired comments:

Toaster Sunshine said...

Fancy running into (1>3)-B-D-glucan here. It's actually tangentially involved in the research that I'm currently doing. I'm using the Limulus amebocyte lysate assay to detect endotoxin in serum, and (1>3)-B-D-glucan just so happens to also activate the Limulus coagulation cascade, which can lead to annoying things like false positives and enhancement.
Want an adjunct guest post of LPS?

Chris said...

Yes, toaster. A guest post on LPS would be grand. It's a groovy molecule!