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Chemical structure of α-1,4-glucan, the main polysaccharide in AHCC.
Active Hexose Correlated Compound is a chemical isolated from the Shiitake mushroom.

AHCC is the brand name of an alpha-glucan rich nutritional supplement produced from the mycelia of shiitake (Lentinula edodes) of the basidiomycete family of mushrooms. The product/supplement/compound-mix is a subject of research as a potential anti-cancer agent but has not been conclusively found to treat cancer or any other disease, and there are conflict of interest concerns about the published research.[1][2] AHCC is a popular alternative medicine in Japan.[3] AHCC stood for Active hexose correlated compound.

AHCC is a registered trademark of and manufactured by Amino Up Co., Ltd. in Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan. [4]

Development and Chemical composition[edit]

AHCC was developed by Amino Up Chemical Co., LTD. and Dr. Toshihiko Okamoto (School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tokyo) in 1989[5].

Polysaccharides form a large part of the composition of AHCC. These include beta-glucan (β-glucan) and acetylated α-glucan. Acetylated α-glucan, produced by culturing the mushroom mycelia, is unique to AHCC. Approximately 20% of the make up of AHCC is α-glucans.[6]

Glucans are saccharides, of which some are known to have immune stimulating effects.[7]

Potential Mechanisms of Action[edit]

The manufacturer of AHCC states that the culturing process utilized in its manufacture favors the release of small bioactive molecules that act as nontoxic agonists for toll-like receptors (TLRs), specifically TLR-4, initiating a systemic anti-inflammatory response. AHCC is believed to bind to TLR-2 and TLR-4, and act as an immune modulator,[8] as Immune cells such as CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and natural killer (NK) cells will produce cytokines by either cytokine stimulation by dendritic cells or ligand binding to TLRs. [9]

Use in Integrative Medicine[edit]

AHCC is widely used in Japan and China[10]. It is available to the general public in Japan and China without a prescription and many people use it for general health maintenance and treatment of acute infections.

It is often used as a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for immune support[5], as reports in animal and clinical settings have indicated that AHCC is associated with an enhanced response to infection and increased survival.[11][12] AHCC is in some cases also used by those undergoing conventional cancer therapy (eg. chemotherapy[6]) for its reported immunomodulatory functions.[13]

In Japan, AHCC is the 2nd most popular complementary and alternative medicine used by cancer patients. Agaricus blazei supplements are the most popular, outpacing AHCC use by a factor of 7:1.[3]


Nearly all of the research into AHCC has been funded by the manufacturer, which complicates the discussion of currently available results – independent research is needed to verify them.[2] The mechanism of action of AHCC is poorly understood and there is little known about its safety.[2] As of 2011 clinical research into AHCC has been of poor quality: there are no large-scale studies or randomized controlled trials.[2]

Laboratory research suggests AHCC may have immunostimulatory effects.[2]

AHCC has been proposed as a treatment for cancer, but research into its effectiveness has produced only uncertain and inconclusive evidence.[1] Detailed research is needed into the pharmacology of AHCC before any recommendation of its use as an adjuvant therapy can be made.[2]

Studies have suggested that AHCC supplementation may affect immune outcomes and immune cell populations, suggesting that it has anti-inflammatory effects[14]. Moreover, available data have demonstrated that AHCC may possibly reduce symptoms, improve survival, and shorten recovery time in animal models infected with viruses, bacteria, and fungal infections. [15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "AHCC". WebMD. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Shah SK, Walker PA, Moore-Olufemi SD, Sundaresan A, Kulkarni AD, Andrassy RJ (2011). "An evidence-based review of a Lentinula edodes mushroom extract as complementary therapy in the surgical oncology patient". JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr (Review). 35 (4): 449–58. doi:10.1177/0148607110380684. PMID 21628606. It is important to note that the vast majority of the published research on AHCC has been supported by the manufacturer.
  3. ^ a b Hyodo I, Amano N, Eguchi K (April 2005). "Nationwide survey on complementary and alternative medicine in cancer patients in Japan". Journal of Clinical Oncology. 23 (12): 2645–54. doi:10.1200/JCO.2005.04.126. PMID 15728227.
  4. ^ "AHCC®A Standardized Extract of Cultured Lentinula edodes Mycelia – Amino Up". www.aminoup.co.jp. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  5. ^ a b Anil D. Kulkarni; Philip Calder; Toshinori Ito (2016). Clinician's Guide to AHCC. ISBN 978-4-9909264-1-0.
  6. ^ a b Ito, Toshinori; Urushima, Hayato; Sakaue, Miki; Yukawa, Sayoko; Honda, Hatsumi; Hirai, Kei; Igura, Takumi; Hayashi, Noriyuki; Maeda, Kazuhisa (2014-03-10). "Reduction of Adverse Effects by a Mushroom Product, Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) in Patients With Advanced Cancer During Chemotherapy—The Significance of the Levels of HHV-6 DNA in Saliva as a Surrogate Biomarker During Chemotherapy". Nutrition and Cancer. 66 (3): 377–382. doi:10.1080/01635581.2014.884232. ISSN 0163-5581. PMID 24611562.
  7. ^ Fujii H, Nakagawa T: Novel substance having physiological activity, process for producing the same, and use, U.S. Patent Application Publication, Mar 6, 2003.
  8. ^ Mallet, Jean-François; Graham, Émilie; Ritz, Barry W.; Homma, Kohei; Matar, Chantal (2015-01-18). "Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) promotes an intestinal immune response in BALB/c mice and in primary intestinal epithelial cell culture involving toll-like receptors TLR-2 and TLR-4". European Journal of Nutrition. 55 (1): 139–146. doi:10.1007/s00394-015-0832-2. ISSN 1436-6207. PMID 25596849.
  9. ^ Zhinan Yin; Hajime Fujii; Thomas Walshe (August 2010). "Effects of Active Hexose Correlated Compound on Frequency of CD4+ and CD8+ T Cells Producing Interferon-γ and/or Tumor Necrosis factor-α in Healthy Adults". Human Immunology. 71 (12): 1187–1190. doi:10.1016/j.humimm.2010.08.006. PMID 20732368.
  10. ^ Cao, Zhiyun; Chen, Xuzheng; Lan, Lan; Zhang, Zhideng; Du, Jian; Liao, Lianming (April 2015). "Active hexose correlated compound potentiates the antitumor effects of low-dose 5-fluorouracil through modulation of immune function in hepatoma 22 tumor-bearing mice". Nutrition Research and Practice. 9 (2): 129–136. doi:10.4162/nrp.2015.9.2.129. ISSN 1976-1457. PMC 4388943. PMID 25861418.
  11. ^ Ritz, Barry W (2008-08-22). "Supplementation with active hexose correlated compound increases survival following infectious challenge in mice". Nutrition Reviews. 66 (9): 526–531. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2008.00085.x. ISSN 0029-6643. PMID 18752476.
  12. ^ Nogusa, Shoko; Gerbino, Jeffrey; Ritz, Barry W. (February 2009). "Low-dose supplementation with active hexose correlated compound improves the immune response to acute influenza infection in C57BL/6 mice". Nutrition Research. 29 (2): 139–143. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2009.01.005. ISSN 0271-5317. PMID 19285605.
  13. ^ "AHCC® ResearchAHCC🄬の研究 – Amino Up". www.aminoup.co.jp. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  14. ^ Mascaraque, Cristina; Suárez, María Dolores; Zarzuelo, Antonio; de Medina, Fermín Sánchez; Martínez-Augustin, Olga (2014-10-02). "Active hexose correlated compound exerts therapeutic effects in lymphocyte driven colitis". Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 58 (12): 2379–2382. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201400364. ISSN 1613-4125. PMID 25186628.
  15. ^ Wang, Shuhui; Welte, Thomas; Fang, Hao; Chang, Gwong-Jen J.; Born, Willi K.; O'Brien, Rebecca L.; Sun, Buxiang; Fujii, Hajime; Kosuna, Ken-Ichi (2009-01-13). "Oral Administration of Active Hexose Correlated Compound Enhances Host Resistance to West Nile Encephalitis in Mice". The Journal of Nutrition. 139 (3): 598–602. doi:10.3945/jn.108.100297. ISSN 0022-3166. PMC 2646222. PMID 19141700.
  16. ^ Aviles, Hernan; O'Donnell, Phyllis; Sun, Buxiang; Sonnenfeld, Gerald (December 2006). "Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) Enhances Resistance to Infection in a Mouse Model of Surgical Wound Infection". Surgical Infections. 7 (6): 527–535. doi:10.1089/sur.2006.7.527. ISSN 1096-2964. PMID 17233570.