Medicinal fungi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Medicinal mushrooms)
Jump to: navigation, search

Medicinal fungi are those fungi which produce medically significant metabolites or can be induced to produce such metabolites using biotechnology. The range of medically active compounds that have been identified include antibiotics, anti-cancer drugs, cholesterol inhibitors, psychotropic drugs, immunosuppressants and even fungicides. Although initial discoveries centred on simple moulds of the type that cause spoilage of food, later work identified useful compounds across a wide range of fungi.


Although fungi products have been used in traditional and folk medicines, probably since pre-history, the ability to identify beneficial properties and then extract the active ingredient started with the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928. Since that time, many additional antibiotics have been discovered and the potential for fungi to synthesize biologically active molecules useful in a wide range of clinical therapies has been extensively exploited.

Pharmacological research has now isolated antifungal, antiviral, and antiprotozoan, isolates from fungi.[1] The fungus with probably the longest record of medicinal use, Ganoderma lucidum, is known in Chinese as líng zhī ("spirit plant"), and in Japanese as mannentake ("10,000 year mushroom"). In ancient Japan, Grifola frondosa was worth its weight in silver, although no significant therapeutic benefits have been demonstrated in humans.[2]

Inonotus obliquus was used in Russia as early as the 16th century, and it featured in Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's 1967 novel Cancer Ward.[3]

Lichens have also been used in many folk medicine traditions to treat a wide range of ailments.[4] Research has demonstrated a range of therapeutically significant compounds in a range of lichen species[4] but none are currently believed to be in use in mainstream medicine.



40x brightfield microscopy of Pestalotia/Pestalotiopsis spores. Note the appendages. Some strains (Pestalotiopsis pauciseta) are known to produce taxol.[5][6]

Paclitaxel is synthesised using Penicillium raistrickii and plant cell fermentation. Fungi can synthesize other mitotic inhibitors including vinblastine, vincristine, podophyllotoxin, griseofulvin, aurantiamine, oxaline, and neoxaline.[7]

11,11'-Dideoxyverticillin A, an isolate of marine Penicillium, was used to create dozens of semi-synthetic anticancer compounds.[8] 11,11'-Dideoxyverticillin A, andrastin A, barceloneic acid A, and barceloneic acid B, are farnesyl transferase inhibitors that can be made by Penicillium.[9] 3-O-Methylfunicone, anicequol, duclauxin, and rubratoxin B, are anticancer/cytotoxic metabolites of Penicillium.

Penicillium is a potential source of the leukemia medicine asparaginase.[10]

Some countries have approved Beta-glucan fungal extracts lentinan, polysaccharide-K, and polysaccharide peptide as immunologic adjuvants.[11] There is some evidence of this use having effectiveness in prolonging and improving the quality of life for patients with certain cancers, although the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center observes that "well designed, large scale studies are needed to establish the role of lentinan as a useful adjunct to cancer treatment".[12] According to Cancer Research UK, "there is currently no evidence that any type of mushroom or mushroom extract can prevent or cure cancer".[13]

Antibacterial agents (antibiotics)[edit]

Alexander Fleming led the way to the beta-lactam antibiotics with the Penicillium mold and penicillin. Subsequent discoveries included alamethicin, aphidicolin, brefeldin A, Cephalosporin, cerulenin, citromycin, eupenifeldin, fumagillin, fusafungine, fusidic acid, itaconic acid, MT81, nigrosporin B, usnic acid, verrucarin A, vermiculine and many others.

Ling Zhi-8, an immunomodulatory protein isolated from Ganoderma lucidum

Antibiotics retapamulin, tiamulin, and valnemulin are derivatives of the fungal metabolite pleuromutilin. Plectasin, austrocortilutein, austrocortirubin, coprinol, oudemansin A, strobilurin, illudin, pterulone, and sparassol are antibiotics isolated from basidiomycete species.

Cholesterol biosynthesis inhibitors[edit]

Statins are an important class of cholesterol-lowering drugs; the first generation of statins were derived from fungi.[14]

The red yeast rice fungus, Monascus purpureus, can synthesize three statins.

The Pravastatin precursor mevastatin can be extracted from Penicillium. Lovastatin, the first commercial statin, was extracted from a fermentation broth of Aspergillus terreus.[14] Industrial production is now capable of producing 70 mg lovastatin per kilogram of substrate.[15] The red yeast rice fungus, Monascus purpureus, can synthesize lovastatin, mevastatin, and the simvastatin precursor monacolin J. Zaragozic acids were isolated from ascomycota. Nicotinamide riboside, a cholesterol biosynthesis inhibitor, is made by Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Other compounds include Simvastatin, a semi-synthetic derivative of Lovastatin.[14]


Griseofulvin, caspofungin, strobilurin, azoxystrobin, micafungin, and echinocandins, are all extracted from fungi. Anidulafungin is a derivative of an Aspergillus metabolite.


Ciclosporin, was discovered in Tolypocladium inflatum. Bredinin was discovered in Eupenicillium brefeldianum. Mycophenolic acid was discovered in Penicillium stoloniferum. Thermophilic fungi were the source of the fingolimod precursor myriocin. Aspergillus synthesizes immunosuppressants gliotoxin and endocrocin. Subglutinols are immunosuppressants isolated from Fusarium subglutinans.[16] Other compounds include mizoribine.


Codinaeopsin, efrapeptins, zervamicins, and antiamoebin,[17] are made by fungi.


Many fungal isolates act as DPP-4 inhibitors, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, and alpha amylase inhibitors in vitro. Ternatin is a fungal isolate that suppresses hyperglycemia.[18] Aspergillusol A is an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor made by Aspergillus. Sclerotiorin is an aldose reductase inhibitor made by Penicillium.

Psychotropic effects[edit]

A number of fungi have well documented psychotropic effects, some of them severe and associated with sometimes acute and life-threatening side-effects.[19] Well known amongst these is Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric. More widely used informally are a range of fungi collectively known as "magic mushrooms", which contain psilocybin and psilocin.

The history of bread-making is also peppered with references to deadly ergotism caused by ergot, most commonly Claviceps purpurea, a parasite of cereal crops. A number of therapeutically useful drugs have subsequently been extracted from ergot including ergotamine, pergolide and cabergoline.[20]

Psychotropic compounds created from ergot alkaloids also include dihydroergotamine, methysergide, methylergometrine, hydergine, nicergoline, lisuride, bromocriptine, cabergoline, pergolide. Polyozellus multiplex synthesizes prolyl endopeptidase inhibitors polyozellin, thelephoric acid, kynapcins. Neurotrophic fungal isolates include L-theanine, tricholomalides, scabronines, termitomycesphins. Many fungi synthesize the partial, non-selective, serotonin receptor agonist/analog psilocin.

A number of other fungal species have been induced to produce ergot alkaloids including species of Aspergillus and Penicillium.


The photochemistry of Vitamin D biosynthesis

Fungi are one source of vitamin D. Fungi can synthesize vitamins D2 (ergocalciferol), D4 (22-dihydroergocalciferol), and D1 (Lumisterol+D2).[21]


Aspergillus niger is used to produce recombinant phytase, an enzyme added to animal feeds to improve absorption of phosphorus.

Edible species with medically significant metabolites[edit]

Many edible species have been shown to produce medically significant metabolites. However eating fungi with such properties is most unlikely to result in any medically beneficial effect. Most compounds of interest when used for medical purposes are synthesized on an industrial scale and are packaged and administered in ways that maximise the potential benefit.

Those fungi listed below have been shown to have significant effect as evidenced by human clinical trials published in peer reviewed papers and quoted in secondary sources.

Agaricus subrufescens (Agaricus blazei/brasiliensis, almond mushroom) is a fungus associated with Brazil and Japan.[22][23] Research and small clinical studies demonstrated A. subrufescens extracts have antihyperglycemic and anticancer activities.[24][25][26][27] Brefeldin A and blazein were isolated from A. subrufescens.

Boletus badius has been shown to synthesize theanine which is claimed to have mild psychoactive properties.[28]

Cordyceps sinensis is an entomopathogenic fungi collected on the Tibetan Plateau. The immunosuppressant ciclosporin was originally isolated from Cordyceps subsessilis. The adenosine analog cordycepin was originally isolated from Cordyceps. Other Cordyceps isolates include, cordymin, cordycepsidone, and cordyheptapeptide.[29] CS-4 is commercially sold as C. sinensis, but Cs-4 has recently been confirmed to be a different species from the Cordyceps species used in traditional Chinese medicine. CS-4 is properly known as Paecilomyces hepiali. Hirsutella sinensis is the accepted asexual form of C. sinensis.[30]

Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) has been used as a source of Lentinan, AHCC, and eritadenine. In 1985 Japan approved lentinan as an adjuvant for gastric cancer. Studies there indicate prolonged survival and improved quality of life when gastric cancer patients with unresectable or recurrent diseases are treated with lentinan in combination with other chemotherapies.[11]

Morchella esculenta (Morel) contains the amino acid, cis-3-amino-L-proline.

Ustilago maydis (Mexican truffle, huitlacoche, corn fungus) synthesises ustilagine and ustilagic acid.[31]

Ganoderma lucidum (Ling zhi, mannentake, reishi) has a long record of medicinal use. It contains p-hydroxybenzoic acid, cinnamic acid, and lanostane-type triterpenoids such as ganoderic acids.[32]

Hydnellum peckii has yielded atromentin, an anticoagulant isolated from the mycorrhiza.[33][34]

Schizophyllum commune (Split gill) has yielded schizophyllan (SPG, sizofiran, sonifilan) which has been researched clinically for anticancer activity.[35] Hydrophobins were originally isolated from S. commune. A chemically analogous polysaccharide, scleroglucan, is an isolate of Sclerotium rolfsii.

Trametes versicolor (Coriolus versicolor, yun zhi, kawaratake, turkey tail) have produced protein-bound polysaccharides PSK and PSP (polysaccharopeptide) from different mycelia strains. In Japan, PSK is a gastric cancer adjuvant. Japan began using PSK in 1977, while China began using PSP in 1987.[citation needed]


Saccharomyces is used industrially to produce the amino acid lysine, as well as recombinant proteins insulin and Hepatitis B surface antigen. Transgenic yeast are used to produce artemisinin, as well as a number of insulin analogs.[36] Candida is used industrially to produce vitamins ascorbic acid and riboflavin. Pichia is used to produce the amino acid tryptophan and the vitamin pyridoxine. Rhodotorula is used to produce the amino acid phenylalanine. Moniliella is used industrially to produce the sugar alcohol erythritol.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Engler M, Anke T, Sterner O (1998). "Production of antibiotics by Collybia nivalis, Omphalotus olearis, a Favolaschia and a Pterula species on natural substrates.". Z Naturforsch C 53 (5-6): 318–24. PMID 9705612. 
  2. ^ "Maitake Mushroom". Complementary and Alternative Medicine : Diet and Nutrition. American Cancer Society. 2008. Retrieved 2011-03-08. 
  3. ^ Zheng, Weifa; Miao, Kangjie; Liu, Yubing; Zhao, Yanxia; Zhang, Meimei; Pan, Shenyuan; Dai, Yucheng (2010). "Chemical diversity of biologically active metabolites in the sclerotia of Inonotus obliquus and submerged culture strategies for up-regulating their production". Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 87 (4): 1237–54. doi:10.1007/s00253-010-2682-4. PMID 20532760. 
  4. ^ a b S Malhotra, R Subban, A Singh (2007). "Lichens – Role in Traditional Medicine and Drug Discovery". The Internet Journal of Alternative Medicine 5 (2). 
  5. ^ Bemani E, Ghanati F, Rezaei A, Jamshidi M (2013). "Effect of phenylalanine on Taxol production and antioxidant activity of extracts of suspension-cultured hazel (Corylus avellana L.) cells.". J Nat Med 67 (3): 446–51. doi:10.1007/s11418-012-0696-1. PMID 22847380. 
  6. ^ Gangadevi V, Murugan M, Muthumary J (2008). "Taxol determination from Pestalotiopsis pauciseta, a fungal endophyte of a medicinal plant.". Sheng Wu Gong Cheng Xue Bao 24 (8): 1433–8. doi:10.1016/s1872-2075(08)60065-5. PMID 18998547. 
  7. ^[dead link]
  8. ^ "Research update: Chemists find help from nature in fighting cancer - MIT News Office". 2013-02-27. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  9. ^ Overy DP, Larsen TO, Dalsgaard PW, Frydenvang K, Phipps R, Munro MH, et al. (2005). "Andrastin A and barceloneic acid metabolites, protein farnesyl transferase inhibitors from Penicillium albocoremium: chemotaxonomic significance and pathological implications.". Mycol Res 109 (Pt 11): 1243–9. doi:10.1017/S0953756205003734. PMID 16279417. 
  10. ^ Shrivastava A, Khan AA, Shrivastav A, Jain SK, Singhal PK (2012). "Kinetic studies of L-asparaginase from Penicillium digitatum.". Prep Biochem Biotechnol 42 (6): 574–81. doi:10.1080/10826068.2012.672943. PMID 23030468. 
  11. ^ a b Ina, K; Kataoka, T; Ando, T (2013). "The use of lentinan for treating gastric cancer". Anti-cancer agents in medicinal chemistry 13 (5): 681–8. doi:10.2174/1871520611313050002. PMC 3664515. PMID 23092289. 
  12. ^ "Lentinan". Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. 27 February 2013. Retrieved August 2013. 
  13. ^ "Mushrooms and cancer". Cancer Research UK. Retrieved August 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c Tobert, Jonathan A. (2003). "Lovastatin and beyond: the history of the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors". Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 2: 517–526. doi:10.1038/nrd1112. PMID 12815379. 
  15. ^ Jahromi MF, Liang JB, Ho YW, Mohamad R, Goh YM, Shokryazdan P (2012). "Lovastatin production by Aspergillus terreus using agro-biomass as substrate in solid state fermentation.". J Biomed Biotechnol 2012: 196264. doi:10.1155/2012/196264. PMC 3478940. PMID 23118499. 
  16. ^ Kim H, Baker JB, Park Y, Park HB, DeArmond PD, Kim SH, et al. (2010). "Total synthesis, assignment of the absolute stereochemistry, and structure-activity relationship studies of subglutinols A and B.". Chem Asian J 5 (8): 1902–10. doi:10.1002/asia.201000147. PMID 20564278. 
  17. ^ Nagaraj, G.; Uma, MV.; Shivayogi, MS.; Balaram, H. (January 2001). "Antimalarial activities of peptide antibiotics isolated from fungi". Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (NCBI) 45 (1): 145–9. doi:10.1128/aac.45.1.145-149.2001. PMC 90252. PMID 11120957. 
  18. ^ Lo, HC; Wasser, SP (2011). "Medicinal mushrooms for glycemic control in diabetes mellitus: History, current status, future perspectives, and unsolved problems (review)". International journal of medicinal mushrooms 13 (5): 401–26. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushr.v13.i5.10. PMID 22324407. 
  19. ^ Hoegberg LC; Larsen L; Sonne L; Bang J; Skanning PG; (2008). "Three cases of Amanita muscaria ingestion in children: two severe courses [abstract]". Clinical Toxicology 46 (5): 407–8. doi:10.1080/15563650802071703. PMID 18568796. 
  20. ^ Schade R, Andersohn F, Suissa S, Haverkamp W, Garbe E (January 2007). "Dopamine agonists and the risk of cardiac-valve regurgitation". The New England Journal of Medicine 356 (1): 29–38. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa062222. PMID 17202453. 
  21. ^ Keegan RJ, Lu Z, Bogusz JM, Williams JE, Holick MF (Jan 1, 2013). "Photobiology of vitamin D in mushrooms and its bioavailability in humans". Dermatoendocrinol. 5 (1): 165–76. doi:10.4161/derm.23321. PMC 3897585. PMID 24494050. [non-primary source needed]
  22. ^ Takaku, Takeshi; Kimura, Yoshiyuki; Okuda, Hiromichi (May 2001). "Isolation of an antitumor compound from Agaricus blazei Murill and its mechanism of action". The Journal of Nutrition 131 (5): 1409–13. PMID 11340091. 
  23. ^ Hyodo, I.; Amano, N; Eguchi, K; Narabayashi, M; Imanishi, J; Hirai, M; Nakano, T; Takashima, S (2004). "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. 
  24. ^ Fortes, RC; Novaes, MRCG; Recova, VL; Melo, AL (2009). "Immunological, hematological, and glycemia effects of dietary supplementation with Agaricus sylvaticus on patients' colorectal cancer". Experimental Biology and Medicine 234 (1): 53–62. doi:10.3181/0806-RM-193. PMID 18997106. [unreliable medical source?]
  25. ^ Ahn, W.-S.; Kim, D.-J.; Chae, G.-T.; Lee, J.-M.; Bae, S.-M.; Sin, J.-I.; Kim, Y.-W.; Namkoong, S.-E.; Lee, I. P. (2004). "Natural killer cell activity and quality of life were improved by consumption of a mushroom extract, Agaricus blazei Murill Kyowa, in gynecological cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy". International Journal of Gynecological Cancer 14 (4): 589–94. doi:10.1111/j.1048-891X.2004.14403.x. PMID 15304151. [unreliable medical source?]
  26. ^ "Agaricus". About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  27. ^ Hetland, G.; Johnson, E.; Lyberg, T.; Bernardshaw, S.; Tryggestad, A. M. A.; Grinde, B. (2008). "Effects of the Medicinal Mushroom Agaricus blazei Murill on Immunity, Infection and Cancer". Scandinavian Journal of Immunology 68 (4): 363–70. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3083.2008.02156.x. PMID 18782264. 
  28. ^ "l-theanine". The chemical has also been isolated from the edible mushroomBoletus badius. 
  29. ^ Khan, Md.Asaduzzaman; Tania, Mousumi; Zhang, Dian-Zheng; Chen, Han-Chun (2010). "Cordyceps Mushroom: A Potent Anticancer Nutraceutical". The Open Nutraceuticals Journal 3: 179–83. doi:10.2174/1876396001003010179. 
  30. ^ Chen, Yue-Qin; Wang, Ning; Qu, Liang-Hu; Li, Tai-Hui; Zhang, Wei-Ming (2001). "Determination of the anamorph of Cordyceps sinensis inferred from the analysis of the ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacers and 5.8S rDNA". Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 29 (6): 597–607. doi:10.1016/S0305-1978(00)00100-9. ISSN 0305-1978. PMID 11336809. 
  31. ^ Juárez-Montiel M, Ruiloba de León S, Chávez-Camarillo G, Hernández-Rodríguez C, Villa-Tanaca L (2011). "Huitlacoche (corn smut), caused by the phytopathogenic fungus Ustilago maydis, as a functional food.". Rev Iberoam Micol 28 (2): 69–73. doi:10.1016/j.riam.2011.01.001. PMID 21352944. 
  32. ^ Liu D, Gong J, Dai W, Kang X, Huang Z, Zhang HM, et al. (2012). "The genome of Ganoderma lucidum provides insights into triterpenes biosynthesis and wood degradation [corrected].". PLoS ONE 7 (5): e36146. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036146. PMC 3342255. PMID 22567134. 
  33. ^ Khanna, Jatinder M.; Malone, Marvin H.; Euler, Kenneth L.; Brady, Lynn R. (1965). "Atromentin. Anticoagulant from Hydnellum diabolus". Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 54 (7): 1016–20. doi:10.1002/jps.2600540714. PMID 5862512. 
  34. ^ Zheng, Chang-Ji; Sohn, Mi-Jin; Kim, Won-Gon (2006). "Atromentin and Leucomelone, the First Inhibitors Specific to Enoyl-ACP Reductase (FabK) of Streptococcus pneumoniae". The Journal of Antibiotics 59 (12): 808–12. doi:10.1038/ja.2006.108. PMID 17323650. 
  35. ^ Mantovani G, Bianchi A, Curreli L, Ghiani M, Astara G, Lampis B, et al. (1997). "Clinical and immunological evaluation of schizophyllan (SPG) in combination with standard chemotherapy in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.". Int J Oncol 10 (1): 213–21. doi:10.3892/ijo.10.1.213. PMID 21533366. 
  36. ^ Mark Peplow. "Sanofi launches malaria drug production | Chemistry World". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 

External links[edit]