Medicinal and edible mushrooms have been widely used for centuries as nutraceuticals to improve health and to treat numerous diseases. Several species of mushrooms such as Lentinula edodes, Schizophyllum commune, Ganoderma lucidum and Coriolus versicolor have been used as immunostimulators and anticancer agents. Mushroom polysaccharides, as the main active ingredient in the mushroom, belong to a special group of immunoceuticals that inhibit cancer cells by activating host immune system. These special properties along with minimal side effects make mushroom polysaccharides as ideal candidates for developing novel anticancer therapies. This review highlights the current status of research in the area of mushroom polysaccharides, focusing on their structure-function relationship and mechanism of biological activities, as well as the potential of using these biopolymers as therapeutic agents.
Lin Zhang, Chun Guang Li, Henry Liang and Narsimha Reddy