Skip to main content
Immunomodulatory properties of medicinal mushrooms: differential effects of water and ethanol extracts on NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity
Innate Immunity
  • Chia-Chen Lu, Fu Jen Catholic University
  • Ya-Jing Hsu, Chang Gung University
  • Chih-Jung Chang, Chang Gung University
  • Chuan-Sheng Lin, Chang Gung University
  • Jan Martel, Chang Gung University
  • David M. Ojcius, Chang Gung University
  • Yun-Fei Ko, Chang Gung Biotechnology Corporation
  • Hsin-Chih Lai, Chang Gung University
  • John Ding-E. Young, Chang Gung University
David M. Ojcius: 0000-0003-1461-4495
Document Type
Publication Date
Medicinal mushrooms have been used for centuries in Asian countries owing to their beneficial effects on health and longevity. Previous studies have reported that a single medicinal mushroom may produce both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on immune cells, depending on conditions, but the factors responsible for this apparent dichotomy remain obscure. We show here that water and ethanol extracts of cultured mycelium from various species (Agaricus blazei Murrill, Antrodia cinnamomea, Ganoderma lucidum and Hirsutella sinensis) produce opposite effects on NK cells. Water extracts enhance NK cell cytotoxic activity against cancer cells, whereas ethanol extracts inhibit cytotoxicity. Water extracts stimulate the expression and production of cytolytic proteins (perforin and granulysin) and NKG2D/NCR cell surface receptors, and activate intracellular signaling kinases (ERK, JNK and p38). In contrast, ethanol extracts inhibit expression of cytolytic and cell surface receptors. Our results suggest that the mode of extraction of medicinal mushrooms may determine the nature of the immunomodulatory effects produced on immune cells, presumably owing to the differential solubility of stimulatory and inhibitory mediators. These findings have important implications for the preparation of medicinal mushrooms to prevent and treat human diseases.
Citation Information
Chia-Chen Lu, Ya-Jing Hsu, Chih-Jung Chang, Chuan-Sheng Lin, et al.. "Immunomodulatory properties of medicinal mushrooms: differential effects of water and ethanol extracts on NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity" Innate Immunity Vol. 22 Iss. 7 (2016) p. 522 - 533 ISSN: 1753-4259
Available at: