Carbohydrates which comprise of monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides are heterogeneous complex structure in living systems and are found to bind to other organic molecules such as proteins and lipids. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are also heterogeneous group of molecules that accumulate in plasma and other body fluids and in cell and tissues. This review focuses on the impact of polysaccharides and AGEs on immune function. A number of in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that polysaccharides and AGEs modulate both innate and adaptive immune responses. Polysaccharides such as lectins are reported to activate innate immune cells and T-helper cells leading to the up-regulation of T-lymphocytes, B-lymphocytes and macrophages and release of different cytokine profiles such as tumour necrosis factor (TNF-α), interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12, interferon gamma and beta (IFN-γ and IFN-β2). Both lectins which are non-enzymatic proteins present in plants and animals that preferentially bind to specific carbohydrate structures and AGE which triggers inflammatory response by binding to RAGE do so there by mediating inflammation known as a key underlying cause in the development of vascular complications leading to an increased expression of cytokines, growth factors and adhesion molecules with mediate and immune response.
Key words: Immunomodulation, carbohydrates, advanced glycation end products (AGEs), receptors, lectins, in vitro and in vivo studies.