Agaricus Blazei

What Happened to the Name "Agaricus blazei?" — Fungi Perfecti

Agaricus blazei Murrill (ABM) popularly known as ‘Cogumelo do Sol’ in Brazil, or ‘Himematsutake’ in Japan, is a mushroom native to Brazil, and widely cultivated in Japan for its medicinal uses, so it is now considered as one of the most important edible and culinary-medicinal biotechnological species. It was traditionally used to treat many common diseases like atherosclerosis, hepatitis, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, dermatitis, and cancer. In vitro and in vivo ABM has shown immunomodulatory and antimutagenic properties, although the biological pathways and chemical substances involved in its pharmacological activities are still not clear.

The polysaccharides Phyto complex is thought to be responsible for known carcinogenic and toxic substances in animals that must completely and fully evaluate its immunostimulant and antitumor properties, probably through an opsonizing biochemical pathway. Clinical studies are positive confirmations, but we are still at the beginning, and there are perplexing concerns especially relative to the content of agaritine. Agaritine is well-. known carcinogenic and toxic substances in animals, that must be completely and fully evaluated.

 In a study, we examined the antitumor activities of various substances isolated from the lipid fraction of A. blazei. Tumor growth was retarded by the oral administration of the lipid fraction extracted from A. blazei with a chloroform/methanol mixture in sarcoma 180–bearing mice. The substance with the antitumor activity in the lipid fraction was isolated via silica gel column chromatography, eluted with an acetonitrile/methanol (3:2) mixture, and identified as ergosterol by direct comparison of the 1H NMR and mass spectrometry spectral data of an authentic sample.

The oral administration of ergosterol to sarcoma 180–bearing mice significantly reduced tumour growth at doses of 400 and 800 mg/kg administered for 20 days without side effects. Ergosterol had no cytotoxicity against tumour cells. To clarify the antitumor activity of ergosterol, we examined the effects of ergosterol on tumour-induced angiogenesis using two in vivo models.

Anti-tumour active polysaccharide against Sarcoma 180 was isolated by DEAE-Sepharose CL-6B and Sepharose 4B column chromatography from the hot-water soluble fraction of the mycelium of liquid-cultured Agaricus blazei mill. This polysaccharide did not react with antibodies of anti-tumour polysaccharides such as lentinan, gliforan, and FIII-2-b which is one of the anti-tumour polysaccharides from Agaricus blazei. Moreover, the analyses of 13C-NMR and GC-MS suggested that this polysaccharide was preliminarily glucomannan with the main chain of β-1,2-linked D-mannopyranosyl residues and β-D-glucopyranosyl-3-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl residues as a side chain. This polysaccharide was completely different from the anti-tumour polysaccharide from the fruiting body of Agaricus blazei, β-1,6-glucan.

Agaricus blazei Murill (ABM) (Himematsutake) is an edible Basidiomycetes mushroom, which grows naturally in Piedade outside of São Paulo, Brazil. According to legend, older people in this region had fewer serious diseases than those in neighbouring communities, presumably due to the use of ABM as food. Besides cancer and chronic hepatitis, this mushroom has been used in folk medicine against a variety of diseases, including diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and hyperlipidemia.

In the mid-1960s, spores of ABM were taken to Japan for commercial cultivation and research. Since then, a considerable number of scientific papers have appeared, focusing mainly on the effect of ABM as an immunomodulating agent, and its therapeutic effect in connection with infections and cancer. In the present article, this work is reviewed.

One important group within the immunocompetent leucocytes is the phagocytic cells, which include monocytes, monocyte-derived macrophages, and polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN). They all bind, internalize and eradicate invading microorganisms. These cells use their own primitive, non-specific recognition systems, which allow them to bind a multitude of microbial products and elicit the so-called innate immune responses. In effect, the cells act as the first line of defense against infection. Natural killer (NK) cells and NK T cells also belong to the innate immune system and are, together with macrophages, in the first line of defense against tumours.

In recent years, mycosterols have emerged as potential functional ingredients for the development of sterol-enriched food products and dietary supplements. Agaricus blazei is mushroom rich in bioactive compounds. For commercial purposes, their fruiting bodies must obey rigid morphological criteria. Those not conforming to these criteria are usually discarded, although this does not mean impairment of their content in bioactive. The present work aimed to propose the use of commercially discarded A. blazei fruiting bodies for obtaining an extract rich in ergosterol as a fortifier ingredient for yoghurts. For extraction, the Soxhlet technology was used and the highest ergosterol yield (around 12%) was achieved in the 5th cycle, yielding 58.53 ± 1.72 µg of ergosterol per 100 g of mushroom (dry weight). The ergosterol-rich extract presented notable antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, besides showing no hepatotoxicity. When added to the yoghurts it significantly enhanced their antioxidant properties. Furthermore, it did not significantly alter the nutritional or the individual fatty acid profiles of the final dairy products. Thus, A. blazei fruiting bodies that do not conform to the commercial requirements of the market and are normally discarded could be exploited for obtaining a natural high added-value food additive, following the circular bioeconomy concept.

Infectious diseases associated with antimicrobial resistance are considered to represent an important public health problem. In this regard, the mushroom ABM contains several bioactive substances that promote significant functional properties, among them, antimicrobial activity, which has attracted the interest of the scientific community. Thus, a study was done aiming to determine whether evidence of the antimicrobial action of A. blazei has been reported in the literature. In this integrative review, manuscripts held in research databases available online were examined to answer the question “Does the mushroom A. blazei exert antimicrobial activity against Gram-negative and/or Gram-positive bacteria?” Only eight scientific articles that have addressed the antimicrobial properties of A. blazei, in vitro and in vivo, were found, all characterized as pre-clinical, i.e., with level VII evidence. Most authors have found that the A. blazei extract promotes an antimicrobial effect against peritonitis, as well as deadly oral infections, especially those caused by Gram-positive bacteria. However, the scientific data currently available are not sufficient to verify the antimicrobial aspect of the mushroom A. blazei and thus further investigation is required.