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Critical Reviews™ in Immunology
Therapeutic Effects of Substances Occurring in Higher Basidiomycetes Mushrooms: A Modern Perspective
Solomon P. Wasser
International Centre for Cryptogamic Plants and Fungi, Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Mt. Carmel, Haifa, Israel; and N.G. Kholodny Institute of Botany, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine
Alexander L. Weis
international Myko Biologies, Inc., Texas Research Park, 14785 Omicron Dr., Suite 104, San Antonio, TX, 78245, U.S.A.
This review highlights some of the recently isolated and identified substances of higher Basidiomycetes mushrooms origin that express promising antitumor, immune modulating, cardiovascular and hypercholesterolemia, antiviral, antibacterial, and antiparasitic effects. Medicinal mushrooms have a long history of use in folk medicine. In particular, mushrooms useful against cancers of the stomach, esophagus, lungs, etc. are known in China, Russia, Japan, Korea, as well as the U.S.A. and Canada. There are about 200 species of mushrooms that have been found to markedly inhibit the growth of different kinds of tumors. Searching for new antitumor and other medicinal substances from mushrooms and to study the medicinal value of these mushrooms have become a matter of great significance. However, most of the mushroom origin antitumor substances have not been clearly defined. Several antitumor polysaccharides such as hetero-β-glucans and their protein complexes (e.g., xyloglucans and acidic β-glucan-containing uronic acid), as well as dietary fibers, lectins, and terpenoids have been isolated from medicinal mushrooms. In Japan, Russia, China, and the U.S.A. several different polysaccharide antitumor agents have been developed from the fruiting body, mycelia, and culture medium of various medicinal mushrooms (Lentinus edodes, Ganoderma lucidum, Schizophyllum commune, Trametes versicolor, Inonotus obliquus, and Flammulina velutipes). Both cellular components and secondary metabolites of a large number of mushrooms have been shown to effect the immune system of the host and therefore could be used to treat a variety of disease states.
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