The positive effects of dietary fiber on the immune system have been shown in many scientific studies. Outer layers of cereal grains such as wheat, rye and rice are a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber in general has also been linked in research to the lowering of cholesterol, improved sugar metabolism and the reduction of intestinal toxicity.
It is believed that rice bran also serves as an important functional food that has health benefits with several nutraceutical properties. (1)
Rice bran dietary fiber components are cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose. Hemicellulose (Arabinoxylan), a type of carbohydrate, is a long chain and branched polysaccharide. Unfortunately, plant fibres are mostly indigestible, and so these health benefits (e.g. immune enhancing benefits) remain mostly unrealized as the fibre passes through and out the body. However, if these very long polysaccharide molecules (specifically from rice bran) are broken up into much smaller components, called hemicelluloses — of which the most powerful are the arabinoxylan compounds — these benefits were not only greatly magnified, but they could be directly affect the body's immune system because the fibre now had a small enough molecular weight to be absorbed undigested through the small intestine into the blood system.
Shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes) is a type of mushroom that has been used in traditional medicine for many years, which stands out with its features such as antiviral and anti-tumor. (2) It is the second most popular edible mushroom in the global market which is attributed not only to its rich protein content but also to possible potential for therapeutic applications. In addition to studies showing that it slows tumor development in patients with cancer, there are also studies showing that it is a powerful antioxidant and a good source of Vitamin D. Enzymes obtained from Shiitake mushrooms are used in the treatment of various cancer diseases in traditional medicine in the Far East.
The health benefits of rice bran arabinoxylan can only be achieved by well digestion and absorption from the intestines. Based on such research background concerning polysaccharides and immunoenhancement, Bi.Bran has been developed as a food with immunostimulatory action designed to work by oral intake.
The leading manufacturer of this type of hemicellulose food supplement is Daiwa Pharmaceutical in Japan, which has a unique and patented process in which rice bran is broken down (partially hydrolyzed) using Shitake mushroom enzymes (lentius edodes mycelia extract) to make a unique and natural blend of hemicelluloses, the principal ingredient of which is the arabinoxylan compound or b-1, 4 xylophyronase hemicellulose. (Although Shitake mushroom enzymes are used in the manufacture, there is no measurable mushroom content in the end product and so most of those with mushroom intolerances have no reaction to it.) Basic unit or segment of the fibre has been broken down or "pruned" to produce, in this case, the hemicellulose called arabinoxylan.
The resulting blend of hemicellulose compounds from this process was generically called Bi.Bran MGN-3 — or just Bi.Bran for short. (Much of the research refers to it as MGN-3 which is the generic manufacturers name, although another generic name used is Modified Rice Bran - MRB). It is also referred to as Biobran arabinoxylan compound because the arabinoxylan is one of its main components. As a blend of natural compounds (hemicelluloses), Bi.Bran consists of an array of short chain polysaccharides, which makes it much easier for the body to assimilate than single component substances (such as conventional drugs). This natural array of ingredients is also thought to be a reason for its non-toxicity and lack of unwanted side effects.
Bi.Bran taken orally is very easily assimilated into the body through the normal processes of absorption in the intestines, entering the blood stream.
It activates the Natural Killer Cells, T cells, B cells, and macrophages, either directly in the blood, or indirectly via the Peyer's patch of the ileum and plays an important role in immunomodulation (immunostimulation, anti-inflammation, anti-allergy, antioxidation processes). (3) Overall, it is considered to enhance the body's natural healing abilities, alleviate the adverse drug reactions of chemotherapeutic agents, and improve quality of life.
Arabinoxylan MGN-3 has (and continues to be) the focus of bona fide scientific and clinical research in Japan, the USA and Europe.
Arabinoxylan MGN-3 has (and continues to be) the focus of bona fide scientific and clinical research in Japan, the USA and Europe. Laboratory studies showing that Arabinoxylan MGN-3 increase the number and function of lymphocytes, macrophages and natural killer cells, have led to other studies examining the benefits of this component in various diseases. Unlike with most natural supplements, there has been very encouraging clinical research, including many human trials in cancer, hepatitis, IBS and HIV carried out on Arabinoxylan MGN-3, much of which have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals. (4,5,6,7)
Having successfully passed the efficacy and safety tests, Arabinoxylan MGN-3 draws attention as an immunomodulator with sufficient evidence to support treatment strategies for diseases such as cancer, and to improve patient life quality. (4)
Contribution of this component to the effectiveness of the treatment regimens (synergistic effect) and improving the patient's quality of life (QOL) were also observed with the administration of MGN-3.
Bi.Bran has been reported to be a biological response modifier of human NK, T and B cells in healthy subjects and in cancer patients. In a study effect of MGN-3 on NK cell function and T and B cell proliferations were examined in 32 cancer patients who had previously undergone conventional surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. A significant increase in the mitogen response in T and B cells and an increase in NK cell activity up to 10 times were detected at the end of the 1st month of MGN-3 administration. (8)
In a three-year clinical trial examining the efficacy of arabinoxylan rice bran (MGN-3) in conjunction with an interventional therapy (IT) for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma patients, it was shown that combined treatment lowered disease recurrence, increased survival rate, and significantly lowered alpha-fetoprotein levels in comparison with patients treated with chemotherapy alone. (9)
32 multiple myeloma patients using Arabinoxylan MGN-3 showed an increase in lytic activity of NK cells at the end of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd month in another randomized controlled study investigating the effects of arabinoxylan MGN-3 on cellular immunity. IL-17 and IFN-γ also increased significantly in this patient group. (10)
Side effects due to chemotherapy are one of the factors that negatively affect the quality of life of cancer patients. In a clinical study which examined the benefits of Arabinoxylan MGN-3 in chemotherapy-induced side effects (fatigue, anorexia, vomiting, hair loss) 50 breast cancer patients were enrolled randomly two groups. Group-A patients were given 3 gram dose of Arabinoxylan MGN-3 per day one week before and one week after chemotherapy. Group-B patient were given chemotherapy alone. Total six cycles of chemotherapy were given. No multivitamin or food supplements were given during this study. Chemotherapy induced side effects (tiredness, anorexia, and vomiting, hair loss) were assessed by questionnaire to the patients before start of each cycle. Weight was checked before each cycle to assess weight gain or loss. White blood cells were checked by complete blood count just before and one week after chemotherapy. At the end of the study there was a significant weight gain and a significant reduction in tiredness and anorexia in group-A patients. These patients were unlikely to need anti-emetics, appetizers or food supplements as they reported improved quality of life. The study findings indicated that, by helping to optimize the immune system, Arabinoxylan MGN-3 can not only help maximize treatment success, but also minimize treatment side effects and improve quality of life during treatment and in recovery. (11)
This ability to enhance the immune system and reduce inflammation means that Biobran is an important food supplement for a variety of situations.
Apart from studies investigating the benefits of arabinoxylan MGN-3 on immune system cells in cancer patients and its ability to increase the quality of life, there are clinical studies in other diseases known to be involved in the immune system. Therapeutic effects of Bi.Bran in patients with IBS were also investigated. In a randomized, controlled pilot study examining the effects of Arabinoxylan MGN-3 in irritable bowel syndrome, forty patients with diarrhea predominant or mixed type IBS were randomly assigned to either a MGN-3 group for treatment with MGN-3 or a placebo group. Therapeutic efficacy and IBS symptoms were assessed subjectively by the patients after 4 weeks of administration and a significant improvement in symptoms detected when compared with that of the placebo. In addition, the GSRS scores in both diarrhea and constipation concerning IBS after MGN-3 intake were significantly improved when compared with the baseline values. CRP value showed a significant decrease and NK cell activity showed an increase in the group of patients who used MGN-3 for 4 weeks. (12)
In a randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study published in 2020; the effect of a low-dose Arabinoxylan MGN-3 supplementation on the quality of life parameters was investigated in a healthy older adult population. Sixty apparently healthy subjects, 40 males and 20 females, over 56 years old were recruited and blindly randomized into two group receiving either placebo or Arabinoxylan MGN-3 (250 mg/day for 3 months). Participants did not take any vitamins or medications during the study and their health was closely monitored. Compared to baseline values and placebo-treated subjects, Arabinoxylan MGN-3 supplementation significantly enhanced the levels of physical and mental component summary scores as well as role-physical, bodily pain, vitality, and social functioning subdomain scores. In the conclusion part of the article, it was stated that Arabinoxylan MGN-3 is a promising psychoneuroimmune modulatory agent that could improve the HRQOL in healthy old adults. (13)
1. Prasad M N, Nagendra & Sanjay, Konasur & M, Shravya. (2011). Health Benefits of Rice Bran - A Review. Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences. 01. 10.4172/2155-9600.1000108.
2. Bisen PS, Baghel RK, Sanodiya BS, Thakur GS, Prasad GB. Lentinus edodes: a macrofungus with pharmacological activities. Curr Med Chem. 2010;17(22):2419-2430. doi:10.2174/092986710791698495
3. GHONEUM, M. & MATSUURA, M. 2004. Augmentation of macrophage phagocytosis by modified arabinoxylan rice bran (MGN-3/biobran). International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology, 17, 283-292.
4. Ooi SL, McMullen D, Golombick T, Nut D, Pak SC. Evidence-Based Review of BioBran/MGN-3 Arabinoxylan Compound as a Complementary Therapy for Conventional Cancer Treatment. Integr Cancer Ther. 2018;17(2):165-178. doi:10.1177/1534735417735379
5. Lewis JE, Atlas SE, Abbas MH, et al. The Novel Effects of a Hydrolyzed Polysaccharide Dietary Supplement on Immune, Hepatic, and Renal Function in Adults with HIV in a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Control Trial [published online ahead of print, 2019 May 30]. J Diet Suppl. 2019;1-13. doi:10.1080/19390211.2019.1619010
6. Salama, H., Medhat, E., Shaheen, M., Zekri, A. N., Darwish, T., & Ghoneum, M. (2016). Arabinoxylan rice bran (Biobran) suppresses the viremia level in patients with chronic HCV infection: A randomized trial. International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology, 29(4), 647–653. https://doi.org/10.1177/0394632016674954
7. Kamiya T, Shikano M, Tanaka M, et al. Therapeutic effects of biobran, modified arabinoxylan rice bran, in improving symptoms of diarrhea predominant or mixed type irritable bowel syndrome: a pilot, randomized controlled study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:828137. doi:10.1155/2014/828137
8. Ghoneum M, Brown J. “NK Immunorestoration of Cancer Patients by MGN-3, a Modified Arabinoxylan Rice Bran (Study of 32 Patients Followed for up to 4 Years)”, Anti-Aging Medical Therapeutics. 3: 217-26., 1999.
9. Bang MH, Van Riep T, Thinh NT, Song Le H, Dung TT, Van Truong L, Van Don L, Ky TD, Pan D, Shaheen M, Ghoneum M. “Arabinoxylan Rice Bran (MGN-3) Enhances the Effects of Interventional Therapies for the Treatment of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Three-year Randomized Clinical Trial”, Anticancer Research. Dec;30(12):5145-51., 2010.
10. Cholujova D, Jakubikova J, Czako B, Martisova M, Hunakova L, Duraj J, Mistrik M, Sedlak J. “MGN-3 Arabinoxylan Rice Bran Modulates Innate Immunity in Multiple Myeloma Patients” Cancer Immunol Immunother. Mar; 62(3):437-45., 2013.
11. Masood AI, Sheikh R, Anwer RA. Effect of “Biobran MGN-3" in reducing side effects of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients. Professional Med J Feb 2013;20(1):013-016.
12. Kamiya T, Shikano M, Tanaka M, Ozeki K, Ebi M, Katano T, Hamano S, Nishiwaki H, Tsukamoto H, Mizoshita T, Mori Y, Kubota E, Tanida S, Kataoka H, Okuda N, Joh T. “Therapeutic Effects of BioBran, Modified Arabinoxylan Rice Bran, in Improving Symptoms of Diarrhea Predominant or Mixed Type Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Pilot, Randomized Controlled Study”, Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine. 828137., 2014.
13. Elsaid AF, Fahmi RM, Shaheen M, Ghoneum M. The enhancing effects of Biobran/MGN-3, an arabinoxylan rice bran, on healthy old adults' health-related quality of life: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Qual Life Res. 2020;29(2):357-367. doi:10.1007/s11136-019-02286-7