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Phytohemagglutinin (PHA) is a mixture of two proteins from the group of lectins , phytohemagglutinin-E (for erythrocyte binding) and phytohemagglutinin-L (for leukocyte binding).


Phytohemagglutinin is found in various legumes . As lectins, the two proteins of phytohemagglutinin bind oligosaccharides . They belong to the group of hemagglutinins and create clumping of blood cells by binding the oligosaccharides on their cell surface . Phytohemagglutinin is a mitogen and activates T lymphocytes and monocytes . It is therefore used as a positive control in various in-vitro tests for immune reactions , such as in the ELISpot . It is also used for cell cultures of lymphocytes because it stimulates their cell division . It is also used to produce karyograms .

Found in legumes

Phytohemagglutinin is a toxin in legumes and can be denatured and thus inactivated by boiling at 100 ° C for ten minutes . Insufficient heating to 80 ° C can increase the toxicity five times compared to the raw state. The following table shows the lectin content of various legumes (according to the USFDA ):

variety Lectin content in hemagglutinating units (HAE)
Red kidney beans , raw 20,000-70,000
White kidney bean , raw 0.7,000-23,000
Broad bean , raw 1000-7000
Red kidney beans, well cooked 200-400


  • C. Pieri, R. Recchioni, F. Moroni, F. Marcheselli, S. Damjanovich: The response of human lymphocytes to phytohemagglutinin is impaired at different levels during aging. In: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Volume 673, December 1992, pp. 110-119, PMID 1485708 .
  • S. He, BK Simpson, H. Sun, MO Ngadi, Y. Ma, T. Huang: Phaseolus vulgaris lectins: A systematic review of characteristics and health implications. In: Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. Volume 58, number 1, January 2018, pp. 70-83, doi : 10.1080 / 10408398.2015.1096234 , PMID 26479307 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rudolf Hansel: Textbook of pharmaceutical biology. Springer-Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-642-60958-9 , p. 269.
  2. Werner Luttmann, Kai Bratke, Michael Küpper, Daniel Myrtek: The experimenter: Immunology. Springer-Verlag, 2014, ISBN 978-3-642-41899-0 . P. 230.
  3. Werner Buselmaier: Biology for physicians. Springer-Verlag, 2006, ISBN 978-3-540-29375-0 . P. 211.
  4. a b c FDA: Bad Bug Book: Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook Phytohaemagglutinin. ( Memento of March 8, 2013 in the Internet Archive )