Evaluating a company-sponsored β-glucan paper

This 2020 review subject was yeast cell wall β-glucan effects in humans:

“The first aim of this review is to collate and interpret the existing pre‐clinical research on β‐1,3/1,6‐glucan with regard to immunity in order to clarify its molecular mechanism of immunomodulatory action.


The second aim of this review is to collate and evaluate the literature in order to provide a comprehensive overview of human studies assessing the effect of supplementation with high quality, well‐characterized β‐1,3/1,6‐glucan from commercially available sources on immunity across multiple populations. Inclusion criteria consist of randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled human studies that investigated efficacy of orally administered β‐glucan with a purity of over 75%.”

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mnfr.201901071 “β‐1,3/1,6‐Glucans and Immunity: State of the Art and Future Directions”

I don’t usually curate company-sponsored research, aka puff pieces. I wondered why, after taking WellImmune β-glucan 500 mg daily for over two months, I didn’t have expected results.

There are always several possible explanations for experimental failures. I didn’t see applicable items in this paper.

There was much information regarding things their sponsor’s customers don’t need to know. Just like their sponsor’s product label, there was little about what customers need to know, such as:

What was each product’s content, in specific percentages, of 1,3/1,6 terminal-linked glucose molecules? That makes a difference.

The sponsor knows, but doesn’t disclose it on their product’s label. These researchers could have found out and presented that information on their sponsor’s and other companies’ products for each study reviewed.

Not doing so deprived readers of an important evaluation criteria that could possibly explain variable results and provide a better measure for comparability. Stopping at “a purity of over 75%” instead of investigating and disclosing exact information was evasive.

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