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Boosting immunity

Mushroom is low in fat and calories, but high in proteins, dietary fiber (non-starch polysaccharides), vitamins and minerals etc., and regarded as a good health food. Boosting immunity is the major function of lot of mushroom, such as Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi), Grifola frondosa, Lentinus edodes (Shiitake), Coriolus versicolor (Turkey tail) and etc. are considered as important natural resources of immunomodulatory as well as anticancer, antivirus agents. The ability of mushrooms to modulate immune functions and inhibit tumor growth mainly contributes to their extracts or bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides, glycopeptide/protein complexes (polysaccharide-peptide/protein complexes), proteoglycans, proteins and triterpenoids.
 
Mushroom polysaccharides in particular (1→3)-β-D-glucatis and their peptide/protein derivatives are most extensively studied for their immunomodulatory and antitumor activities. Immune responses in the innate and adaptive immunity mediated by mushrooms and their bioactive compounds are related to their effects on immune effector cells. They include hematopoietic stem cells, lymphocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells (DCs), natural killer (NK) cells, and T cells. The underlying mechanism mainly involves the interaction of membrane receptors in the immune cells with the mushroom polysaccharides especially β-D-glucans that triggers a cascade of signaling pathways and cytokine release to activate the human immune cells.
 
Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi) is the most popular mushroom and well studied. From 1987-2017, nearly 10,000 research papers on Lingzhi were published. The most common category for publications about Ganoderma was “Pharmacology & Pharmacy,” in which immunomodulation (25.60%) and cancer treatment (21.40%)were the most popular subcategories. Accumulated studies have demonstrated that the Ganoderma modulates immune function both in vivo and in vitro. The immunomodulating effects of Ganoderma were extensive, including promoting the innateimmune function, humoral immunity, and cellular immunity. In particular, Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides may affect immune cells and immune-related cells including B and T lymphocytes, dendritic cells,macrophages, and natural killer cells, with the promotion of immune organ growth,cytokine release, and other immune regulatory functions.
Immunomodulating Effect of Ganoderma (Lingzhi) and Possible Mechanism , Zhibin Lin, Advances in Experimental Medicineand Biology,Volume 1182,2019)
 
Shing et al 1. found that a 6 months treatment Lingzhi increased the mitogen-induced lympho-proliferative responses in immune compromised children with tumors. Zhao et al 2 suggested that the spore powder of Lingzhi had beneficial effects on cancer-related fatigue and quality of life in 48 patients with breast cancer undergoing endocrine therapy, without any significant adverse effects. The experimental group made statistically significant improvements in the domains of physical well-being and the fatigue subscaleafter intervention. In addition, a study of 240 patients with breast cancer and lung cancer showed that Sporoderm-broken spores of Ganoderma lucidum exhibit positive efficacy of immunological modulation, with respect to the upregulation of expression level of cancer-related cytokines, which may potentially enhance the antineoplastic immunity3.
 
The prevention of virus infection is a critical public health challenge. Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) showed the great potential in anti-virus. Hiroaki Nanba et al. 4 studied the effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) glucan on 35 HIV-infected patients, and found twenty patients reported an increase in CD4 + cell counts to 1.4 -1.8 times, and 8 patients reported a decrease to 0.8-0.5 times. Viral load was reported to increase in 9 patients and decrease in 10 patients. However, 85% of respondents reported an increased sense of well-being with regard to vari­ous symptoms and secondary diseases caused by HIV. These results suggest that Maitake D-Fraction had a positive impact in HIV patients. Jun Nishihira et al. 5 did the clinic study to examine whether the dietary consumption of Maitake was effective in boosting the potency of influenza virus vaccination. The double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial showed that continuous Maitake intake raised HI titers against influenza type A virus H1N1 and type B virus, and significantly increased the seroconversion rate for older adults (>60 years of age). Additionally, severe cold symptoms including rhinorrhea and headache were significantly improved by Maitake intake. 
 
Coriolus versicolor (Turkey tail) is a mushroom of the Basidiomycetes class. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a tonic, and recent studies suggest that it has immunostimulant and anti-tumor properties. Polysaccharide-K (PSK), a proprietary product derived from Coriolus, was developed for cancer treatment in Japan. When used as an adjuvant, PSK appears to improve survival rates in patients with gastric and colorectal cancers. It may also benefit patients with esophageal cancer 6.
 
 
1Shing, M. K., Leung, T. F., Chu, Y. L., Li, C. Y., Chik, K. W., Leung, P. C., et al. (2008). Randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of the immunomodulatory effects of Lingzhi in children with cancers. J. Clin. Oncol. 26(15 Suppl.), 14021–14021. doi: 10.1200/jco.2008.26.15_suppl.14021
 
2Zhao, H., Zhang, Q., Zhao, L., Huang, X., Wang, J., and Kang, X. (2012). Spore powder of Ganoderma lucidum improves cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients undergoing endocrine therapy: a pilot clinical trial. Evid. Based Complement. Altern. Med. 2012:809614. doi: 10.1155/2012/809614
 
3Zhiyong Wu, Shunchang Jiao, Hongwei Qiu, The immunomodulation and quality of life improvement of Ganoderma lucidum spore powder on Cancer patients, The 10th International Medicinal Mushroom Conference, Sept. 19-22, 2019, Page 60 (S6-P-4)
 
4Suprasert, P., Apichartpiyakul, C., Sakonwasun, C., Nitisuwanraksa, P., and Phuackchantuck, R. (2014). Clinical characteristics of gynecologic cancer patients who respond to salvage treatment with Lingzhi. Asian Pac. J. Cancer Prev. 15, 4193–4196. doi: 10.7314/APJCP.2014.15.10.4193
 
5Hiroaki Nanba, Noriko Kodama, Douglas Schar and Denise Turner, Effects of Maitake (Grifolafrondosa) glucan in HIV-infected Patients, Mycoscience 41: 293-295, 2000
 
6Jun Nishihira, Mayumi Sato, Aiko Tanaka, Masatoshi Okamatsu, Tomonori Azuma, NaonobuTsutsumi, and ShozoYoneyama, Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) enhances antibody production in response to influenza vaccination in healthy adult volunteers concurrent with alleviation of common cold symptoms, Functional Foods in Health and Disease, 2017; 7(7): 462-482
 
7Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/coriolus-versicolor