Modulating Effects of Arabinogalactans from Plant Gum Exudates on Human Complement System

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Gum arabic and cashew nut tree gum exudate polysaccharide (CNTG) are plant polysaccharides composed of galactose and arabinose known as arabinogalactans (AGs). Although these fractions are used in food and pharmaceutical industry, cases of allergic reactions were described in clinical reports. As AGs were reported as modulators of the classical (CP) and alternative pathways (AP) of complement system (CS), in the present work, we investigate whether gum arabic and CNTG have an effect on both CS pathways. The complement fixation tests were performed with (CP-30 and AP-30) and without pre-incubation (CP-0 and AP-0). For CP-30, CNTG and gum arabic (833 μg/ml) showed a reduction of 28.0% (P = 0.000174) and 48.5% (P = 0.000143), respectively, on CP-induced haemolysis. However, no effect was observed for CP-0 in the CP-induced haemolysis. For AP-30, both CNTG and gum arabic (833 μg/ml) showed 87% reduction on the CP-induced haemolysis, with IC50 values of 100 and 7 μg/ml, respectively. For AP-0, a reduction of 11.3% for gum arabic and no effect for the CNTG on the CP-induced haemolysis were observed. These results suggested that gum arabic and CNTG could be acting as activators of the CS. Thus, this effect on the CS, especially on the AP, which accounts for up to 80–90% of total CS activation, indicates that both fractions may be harmful because of their potential pro-inflammatory action. Considering that CS activation induces inflammatory response, further studies confirming this immunomodulatory effect of these fractions are required to insure their safe use.

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