Biological mechanism and clinical effect of protein-bound polysaccharide K (KRESTIN®): Review of development and future perspectives

Yoshihiko Maehara, Shunichi Tsujitani, Hiroshi Saeki, Eiji Oki, Keiji Yoshinaga, Yasunori Emi, Masaru Morita, Shunji Kohnoe, Yoshihiro Kakeji, Tokujiro Yano, Hideo Baba

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


The mechanism of action of protein-bound polysaccharide K (PSK; KRESTIN®) involves the following actions: (1) recovery from immunosuppression induced by humoral factors such as transforming growth factor (TGF)-β or as a result of surgery and chemotherapy; (2) activation of antitumor immune responses including maturation of dendritic cells, correction of Th1/Th2 imbalance, and promotion of interleukin-15 production by monocytes; and (3) enhancement of the antitumor effect of chemotherapy by induction of apoptosis and inhibition of metastasis through direct actions on tumor cells. The clinical effectiveness of PSK has been demonstrated for various cancers. In patients with gastric or colorectal cancer, combined use of PSK with postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy prolongs survival, and this effect has been confirmed in multiple meta-analyses. For small-cell lung carcinoma, PSK in conjunction with chemotherapy prolongs the remission period. In addition, PSK has been shown to be effective against various other cancers, reduce the adverse effects of chemotherapy, and improve quality of life. Future studies should examine the effects of PSK under different host immune conditions and tumor properties, elucidate the mechanism of action exhibited in each situation, and identify biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-28
Number of pages21
JournalSurgery today
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


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