Mushrooms hailed “treasure troves” of bioactives which may prevent cognitive decline

By Olivia Brown

- Last updated on GMT

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Related tags mushrooms medicinal mushrooms mushroom extracts Cognitive decline Cognitive health

A new review suggests that mushroom constituents, including polysaccharides, peptides, and phenols, exhibit significant anti-neurodegenerative (ND) activities, and urges further research to explore these mechanisms further.

It notes that the active compounds within mushrooms exhibit this beneficial activity through their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions, as well as through the stimulation of neuronal growth and the inhibition of apoptosis (the process of programmed cell death).

The Chinese researchers conclude: “The information collected in this review suggests that mushrooms and their metabolites have broad application prospects in the management of AD (Alzheimer’s disease) as well as NDs more widely.”

“More work is required regarding the purification of active compounds, elucidation of their antiAD capacity and mechanisms in vivo, toxicity, improvement of their bioavailability and production, and development of related products,” the ‘Nutrients’ published report urges.

Cognitive decline

There has been a substantial increase in the elderly population in recent years, with an estimated​ 9% of the global population being older than 65. It has been predicted that this number will reach 17% by 2050.

Paired with an ever-increasing incidence rate of neurodegenerative diseases (NDs), there will be a significant burden to society with a predicted​ increase from 6.5 million to 13.8 million ADs sufferers between 2022 and 2060.

Many current medications are targeted at the alleviation of ND symptoms, yet there is a lack of effective preventative and treatment strategies for such conditions. Therefore, there is a significant interest in the research of developing effective treatment strategies.

The diverse functionalities and nutritional values of edible and medicinal mushrooms has led to their enhanced interest in recent years, with many identified bioactive compounds demonstrating an array of health benefits. Their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions and neuronal stimulatory activities has created significant interest in their potential for AD treatment.

Thus, the present review sought to collate the available evidence summarising the potential benefits of various mushroom metabolites and their neuroprotective properties, in relation to AD treatment and prevention.

Mushroom metabolites

Utilising the ScienceDirect database, the researchers analysed research articles published between 2010 and 2023 with the key words “mushrooms” and “Alzheimer’s disease”, which resulted in the collation of 86 accepted studies.

Resulting data concludes mushrooms contain an array of beneficial constituents, including carbohydrates, peptides, and phenols, whist having further advantages including biodegradability, stability, and low price.

The polysaccharides contained within hyphae of mushrooms have been observed​ to prevent neuronal apoptosis and oxidative damage, whilst reducing amyloid beta peptides (Aβ) which are found to be the main component of amyloid plaques which characterise patients with AD.

Specifically, polysaccharides extracted from the Dictyophora indusia, Pleurotus ostreatus​, and Flammulina velutipes ​species have been reported​ to exhibit neuroprotective effects through enhancing the activities of antioxidant enzymes, suggesting their potential as therapeutic AD-targeted drugs.

In addition, the peptides contained within mushrooms have demonstrated​ a neuroprotective effect through reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS), whilst the cordymin peptide isolated from Cordyces sinesis ​and Cordyceos militaris ​was observed to protect against nerve damage within the brain.

Furthermore, ergothioneine, a thiol derivative of the histidine protein, has been found in many mushrooms. It has been reported​ that low blood levels of the protein have been associated with increased risk of AD development.

A large quantity of phenols, terpenes, nucleosides have also been identified from mushrooms, which exhibited​ antiND potential through mechanisms such as reduced neuroinflammation.

Future work

Whilst the review highlights the strong potential of the various components of mushrooms and their antiND activities, it is emphasised that further research and study is required to purify these active compounds to understand their complex antiAD capacities in vivo.

Furthermore, this additional research is required to prove the underlying mechanisms and develop techniques to improve bioavailability, to enable their potential usage within such ND treatments.

The report stresses: “Significant work remains to be carried out to explore the vast untapped resources of mushrooms, including their cultivation and their medicinal and edible potential.”




Source: Nutrients

“Multiple Metabolites Derived from Mushrooms and Their Beneficial Effect on Alzheimer’s Diseases”

by Zijian Tong, Guodong Chu, Chenmeng Wan, Qiaoyu Wang, Jialing Yang, Zhaoli Meng, Linna Du , Jing Yang and Hongxia Ma

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