Ganoderma lucidum, an oriental medicinal mushroom, has been widely used in Asia to promote health and longevity. LZ-8 is a protein derived from the fungus G. lucidum and has immunomodulatory capacities. In this study, we investigated the immune modulatory effects of rLZ-8 on human monocyte-derived DCs. Treatment of DC with rLZ-8 resulted in the enhanced cell-surface expression of CD80, CD86, CD83, and HLA-DR, as well as the enhanced production of IL-12 p40, IL-10, and IL-23, and the capacity for endocytosis was suppressed in DCs. In addition, treatment of DCs with rLZ-8 resulted in an enhanced, naïve T cell-stimulatory capacity and increased, naïve T cell secretion of IFN-γ and IL-10. Neutralization with antibodies against TLR4 inhibited the rLZ-8-induced production of IL-12 p40 and IL-10 in DCs. rLZ-8 can stimulate TLR4 or TLR4/MD2-transfected HEK293 cells to produce IL-8. These results suggested an important role for TLR4 in signaling DCs upon incubation with rLZ-8. Further study showed that rLZ-8 was able to augment IKK, NF-κB activity, and also IκBα and MAPK phosphorylation. Further, inhibition of NF-κB by helenalin prevented the effects of rLZ-8 in the expression of CD80, CD86, CD83, and HLA-DR and production of IL-12 p40 and IL-10 in various degrees. To confirm the in vitro data, we investigated the effect of rLZ-8 further on antigen-specific antibody and cytokine production in BALB/c mice. Immunization with OVA/ rLZ-8 showed that the anti-OVA IgG2a, IFN-γ, and IL-2 were increased significantly compared with OVA alone in BALB/c mice. In conclusion, our experiments demonstrated that rLZ-8 can effectively promote the activation and maturation of immature DCs, preferring a Th1 response, suggesting that rLZ-8 may possess a potential effect in regulating immune responses.
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