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Beta Glucan


Mike Bollman

Advanced Dermatologics News, April/May 1993, page 5


There are a growing number of companies using beta glucan (variably labeled 'beta-1,3-glucan' or 'beta-1,6-glucan' or 'yeast extract' or 'yeast cell-wall extract' or 'yeast derivative' or 'Nayad', etc.) in their skin care formulations.


Contrary to the claims of its critics, beta glucan does penetrate the epidermis. In fact, it is one of the very few molecules of such size that can penetrate well into the dermis. How can it do this? Beta glucan is a glucose-type molecule that travels freely through the network of dendritic cells(e.g. Langerhans cells and melanocytes) which are present in both the epidermis and dermis.


This does not mean that beta glucan is beyond criticism. Ironically, its single tragic flaw has been completely overlooked by its most vociferous opponents. And all the competing proponents of beta glucan who claim they have the best product because it is beta-1,6-glucan instead of beta-1,3-glucan or because theirs comes from barley instead of yeast, still have nothing but a marginally effective product because of the 'single tragic flaw.'


The Single Tragic Flaw: Beta glucan is merely a 'helper molecule in adding 'muscle to your immune system. Beta glucan is an embarrassingly poor builder of immune response when used alone in its purest form. All the beneficial effects attributed to beta glucan when used topically are in reality due to the master it serves, mannoprotein.


Whereas beta glucan is just a D-glucose polymer that stimulates immune system response through anatagonism of the immune cells ('antagonism' is necessary for keeping immune cells in a heightened state of vigilance against outside invaders), only mannoprotein will build lasting strength into the immune system. The two exist together in the yeast cell wall, but over-purification separates them.


Mannoprotein is a sugar-protein (glycoprotein) that is linked to beta glucan in yeast and barley cell walls. Mannoprotein has a hormonal effect and similar growth factor that is selective for Langerhans (immune) cells. It directly increases the structural integrity, alertness and number of immune cells. Beta glucan being only a sugar, energizes while mannoprotein builds. All of the claims made about beta glucan's long-term effects in the skin can only be realized by the use of products containing a certifiable (measurable) mannoprotein/beta glucan complex.



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