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Maitake - The Silver of The Forest - Hen of The Woods

Grifola Frondosa

The Polysaccharides of Maitake Mushroom

Grifola frondosa (Dicks.) Gray is a widely consumed edible and medicinal fungus, Ancient books record that it can boost qi and fortify the spleen, moisten the lung and protect the liver. Modern people mainly use it to assist in the treatment of diabetes mellitus and various cancers. Over the past three decades, G. frondosa polysaccharides were shown to possess various promising bioactivities, mainly including antitumor and immunomodulation, anti-oxidation, anti-hyperglycemia, and meanwhile can effectively act on the skin and hematopoietic stem cells. The purpose of the present review is to provide systematically reorganized information on structural characteristics, biological activities, and structure-activity relationship of G. frondosa polysaccharides to support their further therapeutic potentials and sanitarian functions.

He X. 2017. Polysaccharides in Grifola frondosa mushroom and their health promoting properties: A review.  Xi'an Jiaotong University College of Medicine,  101:910-921. 

Antidepressant Properties of Maitake Mushroom


Griflola frondosa (Fr) S.F. Gray (Meripilaceae) (GF) is a medical mushroom, and its regulation of the immune system is of interest for the treatment of mood disorders. α-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid (AMPA) receptors are the central mediator for the treatment of depression.


This study examines the antidepressant effects of GF and the role of AMPA in these antidepressant effects.


The CD-1 mice were fed with GF- or Pleurotus ostreatus [(Jacq.: Fr) Kumm (Pleurotaceae)] (PO)-containing food for 1 day or 5 days. The antidepressant effects was determined in the tail suspension test (TST), forced swim test (FST), and open field test (OFT). The involvement of AMPA receptors was determined by the application of the AMPA-specific blocker GYKI 52466.


Treatments with 20%, 33% or 50% of GF-containing food significantly decreased the immobility time (63.6, 56.9, and 52.0% in TST; and 50.8, 43.2, and 38.2% in FST) after 1 day and (62.3, 51.8, and 52.8% in TST; and 49.5, 45.1, and 40.3% in FST) after 5 days. GF-containing food did not cause hyperactive effects in the OFT. The antidepressant effects of the 33% of GF-containing food (down-to 51.3% in 1-day TST and 46.8% in 5-day FST) were significantly stronger than that of the 33% of PO-containing food (down-to 85.5% in 1-day TST and 82.0% in 5-day FST). AMPA-specific blocker GYKI 52466 was able to block the antidepressant effects of the GF-containing food.


GF demonstrated the potential as a safe medical food supplement for the patient with depression.

Bao H, et al. 2017. Griflola frondosa (GF) produces significant antidepressant effects involving AMPA receptor activation in mice. School of Medicine,  55(1):299-305. 

  Proteo-β-glucan from Maitake (PGM) is a strong immune regulator, and its receptor is called Dectin-1. Cumulative evidence suggests that AMPA receptors are important for the treatment of depression. Here, we report that PGM treatment leads to a significant antidepressant effect in the tail suspension test and forced swim test after sixty minutes of treatment in mice. After five consecutive days of PGM treatment, this antidepressant effect remained. PGM treatment did not show a hyperactive effect in the open field test. PGM significantly enhanced the expression of its receptor Dectin-1, as well as p-GluA1(S845) and GluA1, but not GluA2 or GluA3 in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) after five days of treatment. The Dectin-1 inhibitor Laminarin was able to block the antidepressant effect of PGM. At the synapses of PFC, PGM treatment significantly up-regulated the p-GluA1(S845), GluA1, GluA2, and GluA3 levels. Moreover, PGM's antidepressant effects and the increase of p-GluA1(S845)/GluA1 lasted for 3 days after stopping treatment. The AMPA-specific antagonist GYKI 52466 was able to block the antidepressant effect of PGM. This study identified PGM as a novel antidepressant with clinical potential and a new antidepressant mechanism for regulating prefrontal Dectin-1/AMPA receptor signalling.

Bao H, et al. 2016. The Prefrontal Dectin-1/AMPA Receptor Signaling Pathway Mediates The Robust and Prolonged Antidepressant Effect of Proteo-β-Glucan from Maitake. Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio-resources, 22;6:28395.

Osteoporosis and Maitake Mushroom

Mushroom extracts have shown promising effects in the treatment of cancer and various chronic diseases. Osteoporosis is considered one of the most widespread chronic diseases, for which currently available therapies show mixed results. In this research we investigated the in vitro effects of water extracts of the culinary-medicinal mushrooms Trametes versicolor, Grifola frondosa, Lentinus edodes, and Pleurotus ostreatus on a MC3T3-E1 mouse osteoblast-like cell line, primary rat osteoblasts, and primary rat osteoclasts. In an animal osteoporosis model, rats were ovariectomized and then fed 2 mushroom blends of G. frondosa and L. edodes for 42 days. Bone loss was monitored using densitometry (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and micro computed tomography. In the concentration test, mushroom extracts showed no toxic effect on MC3T3-E1 cells; a dose of 24 µg/mL showed the most proliferative effect. Mushroom extracts of T. versicolor, G. frondosa, and L. edodes inhibited osteoclast activity, whereas the extract of L. edodes increased osteoblast mineralization and the production of osteocalcin, a specific osteoblastic marker. In animals, mushroom extracts did not prevent trabecular bone loss in the long bones. However, we show for the first time that the treatment with a combination of extracts from L. edodes and G. frondosa significantly reduced trabecular bone loss at the lumbar spine. Inhibitory properties of extracts from L. edodes on osteoclasts and the promotion of osteoblasts in vitro, together with the potential to decrease lumbar spine bone loss in an animal osteoporosis model, indicate that medicinal mushroom extracts can be considered as a preventive treatment and/or a supplement to pharmacotherapy to enhance its effectiveness and ameliorate its harmful side effects.

Erjavec I, et al. 2016. Mushroom Extracts Decrease Bone Resorption and Improve Bone Formation. Laboratory for Mineralized Tissues, 18(7):559-69.

Anticancer Properties of Maitake Mushroom

Gastric Cancer:

GFG-3a is a novel glycoprotein previously purified from the fermented mycelia of Grifola frondosa with novel sugar compositions and protein sequencing. The present study aims to investigate its effects on the cell cycle, differential proteins expression, and apoptosis of human gastric cancer SGC-7901 cells. Our findings revealed that GFG-3a induced the cell apoptosis and arrested cell cycle at S phase. GFG-3a treatment resulted in the differential expression of 21 proteins in SGC-7901 cells by upregulating 10 proteins including RBBP4 associated with cell cycle arrest and downregulating 11 proteins including RUVBL1, NPM, HSP90AB1, and GRP78 involved in apoptosis and stress response. qRT-PCR and Western blot analysis also suggested that GFG-3a could increase the expressions of Caspase-8/-3, p53, Bax, and Bad while decrease the expressions of Bcl2, Bcl-xl, PI3K, and Akt1. These results indicated that the stress response, p53-dependent mitochondrial-mediated, Caspase-8/-3-dependent, and PI3k/Akt pathways were involved in the GFG-3a-induced apoptosis process in SGC-7901 cells. These findings might provide a basis to prevent or treat human gastric cancer with GFG-3a and understand the tumor-inhibitory molecular mechanisms of mushroom glycoproteins.

Cui F, et al. 2016. Grifola frondosa Glycoprotein GFG-3a Arrests S phase, Alters Proteome, and Induces Apoptosis in Human Gastric Cancer Cells. School of Food and Biological Engineering, 68(2):267-79.

The aim of this study was to investigate the anticancer effect of a combination of D-fraction polysaccharide from Grifola frondosa (DFP) and vitamin C (VC) on hepatocellular carcinoma in vitro. DFP is a bioactive extract from the maitake mushroom. Anticancer activity was demonstrated using various concentrations of DFP alone or in combination with VC against the human hepatocarcinoma SMMC-7721 cell line. To investigate the anticancer mechanism, studies designed to detect cell apoptosis were conducted. Results from the MTT assay indicated that a combination of DFP (0.2 mg/mL) and VC (0.3 mmol/L) led to a 70% reduction in cell viability. Flow cytometry results indicated that DFP/VC treatment induced apoptosis in approximately 65% SMMC-7721 cells. Cell cycle analysis identified cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase following DFP/VC treatment for 48 hours. In addition, cellular morphological changes were observed using transmission electron microscopy. Western blot analysis revealed that the upregulation of BAX, downregulation of Bcl-2, activation of poly-(ADP-ribose)-polymerase (PARP), and the release of cytochrome c were observed in cells treated with the combination of DFP/VC, which showed that the mechanism of anticancer activity in the SMMC-7721 hepatocarcinoma cells involved induction of apoptosis.

Zao F, et al. 2017.  Synergistic Apoptotic Effect of D-Fraction From Grifola frondosa and Vitamin C on Hepatocellular Carcinoma SMMC-7721 Cells. Institute of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, 16(2):205-214. 

The tumor growth and metastasis are angiogenesis dependent, thus blockade of angiogenesis is a promising approach for treatment of cancer. Herein we reported the structural and biological features of a novel water-soluble polysaccharide named GFPW from the fruit body of Grifola frondosa. Chemical and spectral analysis revealed that GFPW with an average molecular weight of 15.7 kDa, possessed a backbone consisting of α-1,6-linked galactopyranosyl residues, with branches attached to O-2 of α-1,3-linked fucose residues and α-terminal mannose. By the chlorosulfonic acid-pyridine method, we prepared a sulfated derivative of GFPW, Sul-GFPW, with a substitution degree of 0.33. According to the (13)C NMR spectrum, the substitution position was deduced at C-2 and C-3. The angiogenesis assays in vitro showed that Sul-GFPW significantly inhibited endothelial cell proliferation in a dose- and time-dependent manner, and reduced endothelial cell migration and tube formation as well. 

Wang Y, et al. 2014.  A heteropolysaccharide, L-fuco-D-manno-1,6-α-D-galactan extracted from Grifola frondosa and antiangiogenic activity of its sulfated derivative. Glycochemistry and Glycobiology Lab, 30;101:631-41.

The understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the immune tolerance induced by the tumoral microenvironment is fundamental to prevent cancer development or to treat cancer patients using immunotherapy. Actually, there are investigations about "addressed-drugs" against cancer cells without affecting normal cells. It could be ideal to find selective and specific compounds that only recognize and destroy tumor cells without damaging the host normal cells. For thousands of years, mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes because of their curative properties. D-Fraction, an extract of Maitake (from the edible Grifola frondosa mushroom), rich in β-glucans, exert notable effects in the immune system. Until now, some published articles suggest that Maitake D-Fraction could have anti-tumoral activity, prevent oncogenesis and metastasis in some tumor types. However, there are no clear data about Maitake D-Fraction action on breast cancer prevention and its exact molecular mechanisms are not yet elucidated. The experiments were performed employing 25 female BALBc mice that were treated with and without Maitake D-Fraction Pro4X or Maitake Standard for 15 days by daily intraperitoneal injection. After treatment period, all mice were implanted with murine tumor cells LM3 to induce mammary tumorigenesis. Animals were checked weekly and killed after 46 days of LM3 transplant; percentage of cancer prevention, rate of tumor growing, and overall survival were determined. Under dissection, the internal organs were evaluated histologically and genetically by RT-PCR. We found that 5 mg/kg per day of Maitake D-Fraction Pro4X, administered dairy during 15 days to BALBc mice was able to block more than 60% breast cancer development. However, Maitake Standard prevents oncogenesis in 26% to respect control. In this work, we found that Maitake D-Fraction Pro4X, administered to BALBc mice, prevents breast carcinogenesis, block tumor invasiveness, reduce angiogenesis, and increase overall survival. 

Roldan- Deamicis A. 2016. Maitake Pro4X has anti-cancer activity and prevents oncogenesis in BALBc mice. Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas,  5(9):2427-41.

Breast Cancer: 

For many years mushrooms have been used empirically in traditional medicine to treat several diseases. Study of the maitake mushroom, with its immunomodulatory and antitumoral properties, has led to the isolation of several bioactive compounds. One of these, D fraction, is known to reduce tumor cell viability. This study examined the effect of isolated D fraction on viability and apoptosis of human breast cancer cells (MCF7). These cells were treated with maitake (D fraction) extract at 18 μg/mL, 36 μg/mL, 91 μg/mL, 183 μg/mL, or 367 μg/mL or were left untreated (control) for 24 hours. MCF7 incubation with the maitake extract resulted in decreased cell viability [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium assay] in a dose-dependent manner. Apoptosis was statistically significantly increased in a dose-dependent manner at every concentration tested (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling assay). Upon incubation with D fraction, a microarray assay revealed upregulation of BAK-1 and cytochrome c transcripts, 2 proteins directly involved in the apoptotic pathway. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction studies confirmed these findings; BAK-1 was one of most overexpressed gene, as observed by microarray assay. These findings confirm the apoptotic effect of maitake D fraction in breast cancer cells and further highlight the involvement of cytochrome c release to the cytoplasm. Cytoplasmic release of cytochrome c, another player in the apoptotic pathway, was also increased after incubation with D fraction in a dose-dependent manner. This finding indicates that the effect of this compound involves mitochondrial dysfunction. The identification of the molecular mechanisms by which D fraction exerts its effects is crucial for the development of preventive and therapeutic strategies for cancer.

Soares R, et al. 2011. Maitake (D fraction) mushroom extract induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells by BAK-1 gene activation. Department of Biochemistry, 14(6):563-72.  

D-Fraction is protein-bound β-1,6 and β-1,3 glucans (proteoglucan) extracted from the edible and medicinal mushroom Grifola frondosa (Maitake). The antitumoral effect of D-Fraction has long been exclusively attributed to their immunostimulatory capacity. However, in recent years increasing evidence showed that D-Fraction directly affects the viability of canine and human tumor cells, independent of the immune system. Previously, we have reported that D-Fraction modulates the expression of genes associated with cell proliferation, cell death, migration, invasion, and metastasis in MCF7 human breast cancer cells. Therefore, the purpose of the current study is to investigate if this modulation of gene expression by Maitake D-Fraction really modulates tumor progression. In the present work, we demonstrate for the first time that Maitake D-Fraction is able to act directly on mammary tumor cells, modulating different cellular processes involved in the development and progression of cancer. We demonstrate that D-Fraction decreases cell viability, increases cell adhesion, and reduces the migration and invasion of mammary tumor cells, generating a less aggressive cell behavior. In concordance with these results, we also demonstrate that D-Fraction decreases tumor burden and the number of lung metastases in a murine model of breast cancer. 

Alonso EN. 2017. Antitumoral Effects of D-Fraction from Grifola Frondosa (Maitake) Mushroom in Breast Cancer. Laboratorio de Biología del Cáncer, 69(1):29-43.

It is already known that the Maitake (D-Fraction) mushroom is involved in stimulating the immune system and activating certain cells that attack cancer, including macrophages, T-cells, and natural killer cells. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, polysaccharide complexes present in Maitake mushrooms appear to have significant anticancer activity. However, the exact molecular mechanism of the Maitake antitumoral effect is still unclear. Previously, we have reported that Maitake (D-Fraction) induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells by activation of BCL2-antagonist/killer 1 (BAK1) gene expression. At the present work, we are identifying which genes are responsible for the suppression of the tumoral phenotype mechanism induced by Maitake (D-Fraction) in breast cancer cells. Human breast cancer MCF-7 cells were treated with and without increased concentrations of Maitake D-Fraction (36, 91, 183, 367 μg/mL) for 24 h. Total RNA were isolated and cDNA microarrays were hybridized containing 25,000 human genes. Employing the cDNA microarray analysis, we found that Maitake D-Fraction modified the expression of 4068 genes (2420 were upmodulated and 1648 were downmodulated) in MCF-7 breast cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner during 24 h of treatment. The present data shows that Maitake D-Fraction suppresses the breast tumoral phenotype through a putative molecular mechanism modifying the expression of certain genes (such as IGFBP-7, ITGA2, ICAM3, SOD2, CAV-1, Cul-3, NRF2, Cycline E, ST7, and SPARC) that are involved in apoptosis stimulation, inhibition of cell growth and proliferation, cell cycle arrest, blocking migration and metastasis of tumoral cells, and inducing multidrug sensitivity. Altogether, these results suggest that Maitake D-Fraction could be a potential new target for breast cancer chemoprevention and treatment.

Alonso EN. 2013. Genes related to suppression of malignant phenotype induced by Maitake D-Fraction in breast cancer cells. Science and Technology Center,  16(7):602-17.  

Previous study revealed that Se-GP11 could exhibited its antitumor activity by improving the immune functions. 5-Fu, as a chemotherapeutic drugs, can kill many immune cells in addition to tumor cells. Accordingly, the enhanced antitumor and reduced toxicity of Se-GP11 on 5-Fu were estimated in this study. The results demonstrated that Se-GP11 could evidently increase the antitumor activity of 5-Fu. Furthermore, Se-GP11 could enhance the immune functions during the tumor inhibition process of 5-Fu for increasing the cytokines secretion (IL-2 and TNF-α) and immune organs weights. In addition, Se-GP11 could reduce the toxicity of 5-Fu on liver by improving the hematological and biochemical parameters and up-regulating the SOD activities and down-regulating the MDA levels. Taken together, the results indicated that Se-GP11 may develop as an auxiliary preparation to chemical antitumor drugs.

Li Q, et al. 2017. The synergism and attenuation effect of Selenium (Se)-enriched Grifola frondosa (Se)-polysaccharide on 5-Fluorouracil (5-Fu) in Heps-bearing mice. School of Food and Biological Engineering, 16. pii: S0141-8130(17)32357-7.  

Polysaccharides extracted from the mushroom Grifola frondosa (GFP) are a potential anticancer agent. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of GFP and vitamin C (VC) alone and in combination on the viability of human hepatocarcinoma SMMC-7721 and HepG2 cells. Studies designed to detect cell apoptosis and autophagy were also conducted to investigate the mechanism. Results from the cell viability assay indicated that a combination of GFP (0.2 or 0.25 mg/mL) and VC (0.3 mmol/L) (GFP/VC) led to 52.73 and 53.93% reduction in cell viability of SMMC-7721 and HepG2 cells separately after 24 h. Flow cytometric analysis indicated that GFP/VC treatment induced cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase, and apoptosis occurred in approximately 43.62 and 42.46% of the SMMC-7721 and HepG2 cells separately. Moreover, results of Hoechst33258 and monodansylcadaverine staining, and transmission electron microscopy, showed that GFP/VC induced apoptosis and autophagy in SMMC-7721 and HepG2 cells. Western blot analysis showed changes in the expression of apoptosis-related proteins [upregulation of BAX and caspase-3, downregulation of Bcl-2, and activation of poly-(ADP-ribose)-polymerase] and autophagy protein markers (upregulation of beclin-1 and microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B light chain-3). We also demonstrated that the expression of both Akt and p-Akt was enhanced, suggesting the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway might not be involved in this process. Our study shows that the combined application of GFP and VC induced cell apoptosis and autophagy in vitro, and might have antitumor activity in vivo.

Song L, et al. 2017. The induction of apoptosis and autophagy in human hepatoma SMMC-7721 cells by combined treatment with vitamin C and polysaccharides extracted from Grifola frondosa. School of Medicine, 22(11):1461-1472.  

Grifola frondosa, a type of food and medical fungus, has been shown to exhibit various pharmacological activities, including anticancer effects. As the most typical cancer diagnosed among female patients, breast cancer remains a huge concern threatening human health globally. In the present study, the anti-breast cancer effects of Grifola frondosa polysaccharides (GFPs) and the underlying mechanisms were investigated in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells, as well as in nude mice bearing MCF-7 tumor xenografts. GFPs exerted cytotoxic effects on the cells, as indicated by a decrease in cell viability, and an increase in the apoptototic rate, lactate dehydrogenase release and reactive oxygen species accumulation, inducing mitochondrial dysfunction. The increased expression of Bax, cleaved caspase-3 and caspase-8, and the reduced levels of B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) and Bcl-extra large (Bcl‑xL) were observed in the cells incubated with GFPs and in the tumor tissues of the mice treated with GFPs. Moreover, the GFPs significantly suppressed the phosphorylation of AKT/glycogen synthase kinase-3β and extracellular signal-regulated kinases in a time-dependent manner. Finally, the inhibition of MCF-7 tumor xenograft growth further confirmed the anti-breast cancer effects of GFPs. All these findings revealed that GFPs induced human breast cancer cell apoptosis via the mitochondrial-dependent apoptotic pathway, and provide experimental evidence to support the use of Grifola frondosa as a potential treatment for breast cancer.

Zhang Y, et al. 2017.  Grifola frondosa polysaccharides induce breast cancer cell apoptosis via the mitochondrial-dependent apoptotic pathway. Department of Neurology, 40(4):1089-1095.   

Antiviral Properties of Maitake Mushroom

A novel heteropolysaccharide from Grifola frondosa mycelia was extracted and purified using DEAE Sephadex A-50 and Sephadex G-200 chromatography. Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance ((1)H NMR and (13)C NMR) spectroscopy were used to decipher the structure of the purified G. frondosa polysaccharide (GFP1). Chemical and spectral analysis revealed that GFP1, with an average molecular weight of 40.5kDa, possessed a 1,6-β-d-glucan backbone with a single 1,3-α-d-fucopyranosyl side-branching unit. Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is the causative pathogen of hand-foot-and-mouth disease. GFP1 was tested for its anti-EV71 activity in cultured cells, which showed that EV71 viral replication was blocked and viral VP1 protein expression and genomic RNA synthesis were suppressed. Moreover, GFP1 exhibited apoptotic and other activities by suppressing the EV71-induced caspase-3 cleavage and IκBα down regulation. Our results demonstrate that the novel G. frondosa polysaccharide has antiviral activity, which could be valuable as a potentially new anti-EV71 therapeutic compound.

Zhao C, et al. 2016. Structural characterization and antiviral activity of a novel heteropolysaccharide isolated from Grifola frondosa against enterovirus 71.  Department of Chemistry,  25;144:382-9.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome & Maitake Mushroom


Insulin resistance is a prominent feature of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and insulin-sensitizing drugs are used to induce ovulation. Recently, it was reported that an extract from Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) improves insulin resistance.


The objective was to explore the effects of Maitake extract (SX-fraction: MSX) to induce ovulation in patients with PCOS in comparison with and in combination with clomiphene citrate (CC).


We conducted an open trial with 80 patients with PCOS at three clinics in Japan. Seventy-two (72) new patients were randomly assigned to receive MSX or CC monotherapy for up to 12 weeks. Eighteen (18) patients who did not respond to MSX or CC were subjected to combination therapy of MSX and CC for up to 16 weeks. Eight (8) patients with documented history of failure to CC received combination therapy from the beginning. Ovulation was assessed by ultrasonography.


Twenty-six (26) patients in the MSX group and 31 in the CC group were evaluated for ovulation. The ovulation rates for MSX and CC were as follows: 76.9% (20/26) and 93.5% (29/31), respectively by the patients (NS), and 41.7% (30/72) and 69.9% (58/83), respectively, by the cycles (p = 0.0006). In the combination therapy, 7 of 7 patients who failed in MSX monotherapy and 6 of 8 patients who failed in CC monotherapy showed ovulation.


The present study suggests that MSX alone may induce ovulation in PCOS patients and may be useful as an adjunct therapy for patients who failed first-line CC treatment.

Chen JT. 2010. Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) extract induces ovulation in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: a possible monotherapy and a combination therapy after failure with first-line clomiphene citrate. Department of Gynecology,16(12): 1295-9.

Anti-Aging Properties of Maitake Mushroom

In present work, the strain of Grifola frondosa SH-05 was used as a vector of zinc biotransformation to produce the IZPS. The bioactivities including antioxidant and antibacterial activities in vitro and anti-aging properties in vivo of IZPS were investigated comparing with the IPS. The results which were in consistent with the results of histopathology assay demonstrated that the IZPS had superior antioxidant and anti-aging activities by scavenging the hydroxyl and DPPH radicals, increasing enzyme activities, decreasing the MDA contents and ameliorating the anile condition of mice. Besides, the IZPS also showed potential antibacterial activities. The IZPS with higher bioactivities was composed of were Rha, Ino and Glu with a molar ratio of 4.7:3.6:1. These conclusions indicated that the IZPS might be a potential source of natural antioxidant, antibacterial agent and anti-aging agent.

Zhang C, et al. 2017. Antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-aging activities of intracellular zinc polysaccharides from Grifola frondosa SH-05. Institute of Plant and Environment Protection95:778-787. 

Neurogenesis and Maitake Mushroom


Grifola frondosa is an edible/medicinal mushroom with great nutritional value and bioactivity. The present study was performed to evaluate the beneficial effect of polysaccharides isolated from Grifola frondosa on memory impairment in aged rats.


20-month-old rats were gavaged with Grifola frondosa polysaccharides (GFP) for 8 weeks. Morris Water Maze test revealed that GFP administration significantly improved memory impairment in aged rats. GFP supply was also found to attenuate age-associated changes of brain histology and ultrastructure observed by light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Moreover, the increase of total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, catalase (CAT) activity, as well as the decreased nitric oxide (NO) and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, were consistent with the behavioral results.


These findings indicated that oral administration of GFP could improve memory impairment via antioxidant action, and dietary supplementation with GFP may provide potential benefits on brain aging.

Chen Z, et al. 2017. Oral administration of Grifola frondosa polysaccharides improves memory impairment in aged rats via antioxidant action. Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Bioactive Substances, 61(11).


The stimulatory effect of mushrooms on neurite outgrowth was assessed in differentiating mouse neuroblastoma (N2a) cells. Neurite length was measured using Image-Pro Insight processor system. Neuritogenesis activity was further validated by fluorescence immunocytochemical staining of neurofilaments. In vitro cytotoxicity was investigated by using mouse embryonic fibroblast (BALB/3T3) and N2a cells for any embryo- and neuro-toxic effects; respectively.


Aqueous extracts of Ganoderma lucidum, Lignosus rhinocerotis, Pleurotus giganteus and Grifola frondosa; as well as an ethanol extract of Cordyceps militaris significantly (p < 0.05) promoted the neurite outgrowth in N2a cells by 38.4 ± 4.2%, 38.1 ± 2.6%, 33.4 ± 4.6%, 33.7 ± 1.5%, and 35.8 ± 3.4%; respectively. The IC50 values obtained from tetrazolium (MTT), neutral red uptake (NRU) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release assays showed no toxic effects following 24 h exposure of N2a and 3T3 cells to mushroom extracts.


Our results indicate that G. lucidum, L. rhinocerotis, P. giganteus, G. frondosa and C. militaris may be developed as safe and healthy dietary supplements for brain and cognitive health.

Phan CW, et al. 2013. Neurite outgrowth stimulatory effects of culinary-medicinal mushrooms and their toxicity assessment using differentiating Neuro-2a and embryonic fibroblast BALB/3T3. Institute of Biological Sciences, 11;13:261. 

Cholesterol-Lowering Properties of Maitake Mushroom

To investigate the effects of dietary Grifola frondosa on cholesterol, normal mice were fed a diet containing 1% cholesterol (HC group) or 1% cholesterol and 10% freeze-dried G. frondosa powder (HC+G group) for 4 weeks and hepatic and plasma lipid levels were compared with those of a cholesterol-free diet-fed mice (N group). Hepatic total cholesterol (TC), triacylglycerol contents were considerably increased and plasma TC / phospholipid (PL) was also increased significantly in the HC group compared with the N group. However, plasma TC content decreased in the HC+G group compared with the HC group. To characterize the mechanisms responsible for lowered plasma cholesterol in G. frondosa-supplemented mice, hepatic gene expression was profiled using DNA microarray and gene ontology. Genome analyses revealed that de novo cholesterol synthesis genes were suppressed following cholesterol intake. However, expression of bile acid biosynthesis and low-density lipoprotein receptor genes showed little change. Scarb1, Abcg5, and Abcg8, involved in cholesterol transport and excretion, were slightly upregulated in the HC+G group compared with the HC group. These data indicate the plasma cholesterol-lowering effect of G. frondosa. Moreover, fatty acid (FA) β-oxidation was promoted via adipocytokine signaling pathways, and Saa, encodes serum amyloid A related to arteriosclerosis, was suppressed in the HC+G group.

Sato M, et al. 2013. Effect of dietary Maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushrooms on plasma cholesterol and hepatic gene expression in cholesterol-fed mice. 
Forest Products Research Institute, 62(12):1049-58.

Antioxidant Properties of Maitake Mushroom

Our previous study revealed that the antioxidant activity of polysaccharide (coded as FGFP) extracted from Grifola frondosa by enzymolysis treatment was significantly superior than that (coded as GFP) extracted by boiling-water. In this study, one purified polysaccharide fractions (coded as FGFP-11) was obtained from FGFP by purified using DEAE-52 column and Sephacryl S-500HR column. Results indicated that FGFP-11 with MW of 59.82 kDa consisted of mannose, glucose and galactose with a molar ratio of 1.00:16.36:5.25. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR spectrum) of FGFP-11 was similar with that of polysaccharide extracted by boiling-water from Grifola frondosa. These indicated the enzymolysis did not destroy the polysaccharide structure. NMR spectrum showed that FGFP-11 possess α-(1→6) glycosidic bond and α-(1→3) glycosidic bond configuration. The experiment of Congo red also revealed that FGFP-11 had triple helix stereo-configuration. Moreover, the antioxidant activities of FGFP-11 were improved compared with that of GFP, especially in scavenging of hydroxyl radical and diphenyl picryl hydrazinyl (DPPH) radical.

Ting Z, et al. 2017. Purification, Characterization and Antioxidant Activities of Enzymolysis Polysaccharide from Grifola frondosa. School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, 16(1):347-356.

Grifola frondosa is an edible mushroom currently available in Taiwan. Ethanolic, cold-water and hot-water extracts were prepared and their antioxidant properties were investigated. At 1 mg/mL, G. frondosa T1 and T2 cold-water extracts showed high reducing powers of 1.02 and 0.50, respectively. Chelating abilities on ferrous ions of G. frondosa T1 and T2 were higher for cold-water extracts than for ethanolic and hot-water extracts. For the scavenging ability on 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical, G. frondosa T1 and T2 extracts were effective in the following order: ethanolic > hot-water > cold-water. The G. frondosa hot-water extract showed high scavenging ability on superoxide anions. Total phenols, flavonoids, ascorbic acid and α-tocopherol are the major antioxidant components found in the various G. frondosa extracts. Based on EC(50) values (<20 mg/mL) obtained, the various extracts from G. frondosa investigated in this study display potent antioxidative properties.

Yeh YJ, et al. 2011. Antioxidant properties and antioxidant compounds of various extracts from the edible basidiomycete Grifola frondosa (Maitake). Department of Biotechnology, 15;16(4):3197-211.

Immunomodulatory Properties of Maitake Mushroom


The present study was designed to evaluate the immune-modulating effects of the polysaccharide from Grifola frondosa (GFP) by using mouse peritoneal macrophage and cytoxan (CTX) induced immunosuppression models. Our results from the phagocytotic and mononuclear phagocytic system function assays showed that GFP-A (one component from GFP) stimulated the phagocytosis of the phagocytes. The splenocyte proliferation assay showed that GFP-A acted the effect combing ConA or LPS in splenocyte proliferation. The results showed that GFP-A increased indices of thymus and spleen, the levels of LDH and ACP in the spleen, the mRNA levels of IL-1β, IL-2, IL-6 and IFN-γ in splenocyte. And GFP-A also significantly increased the expression of CD4(+) and CD8(+) splenic T lymphocytes, which were suppressed by the CTX in peripheral blood. In conclusion, our results indicate that the GFP-A is involved in immunomodulatory effects leading to its modulatory effects on immunosuppression.   

Ma XL, et al. 2015.  Immunomodulatory activity of macromolecular polysaccharide isolated from Grifola frondosa. Laboratory of Food Nutrition and Safety, 13(12):906-14.  

Maitake D (MD)-Fraction is a highly purified soluble β-glucan derived from Grifola frondosa (an oriental edible mushroom). Intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of MD-Fraction has been reported to inhibit tumor growth via enhancement of the host immune system. In this study, we demonstrated that oral administration of MD-Fraction as well as i.p. injection significantly inhibited tumor growth in murine tumor models. After oral administration, MD-Fraction was not transferred to the blood in its free form but was captured by antigen-presenting cells such as macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs) present in the Peyer's patch. The captured MD-Fraction was then transported to the spleen, thereby inducing the systemic immune response. Our study showed that MD-Fraction directly induced DC maturation via a C-type lectin receptor dectin-1 pathway. The therapeutic response of orally administered MD-Fraction was associated with (i) induced systemic tumor-antigen specific T cell response via dectin-1-dependent activation of DCs, (ii) increased infiltration of the activated T cells into the tumor and (iii) decreased number of tumor-caused immunosuppressive cells such as regulatory T cells and myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Our preclinical study suggests that MD-Fraction is a useful oral therapeutic agent in the management of patients with cancer.

Masuda Y, et al. 2013. Oral administration of soluble β-glucans extracted from Grifola frondosa induces systemic antitumor immune response and decreases immunosuppression in tumor-bearing mice. Department of Microbial Chemistry, 133(1):108-19.

A new polysaccharide had been successfully isolated from maitake mushroom (Grifola Frondosa)-GFP. HPLC and Monosaccharide analysis showed that the average molecular weight of GFP was 155kDa and it was mainly composed of rhamnose, xylose, mannose, glucose, molar ratio of 1.00: 1.04: 1.11: 6.21. FTIR, methylation analysis and NMR were used to analyze the structural characterization of GFP. Structural analysis results revealed that its backbone consisted of (1→4)-linked methylation, Glcp residues were major structural polysaccharide GFP units, accounting of the polysaccharide backbone speculate GFP every→3)-Glcp-(1→and one→3,4)-Glcp-(1→connected interval with a small amount of 1→, 1→4, 1→6 glycosidic linkage. MTT assay showed that GFP could significantly improve the proliferation activity of RAW264.7 cells in a certain range of concentrations and time. Scanningelectro microscopy (SEM) results indicated that GFP could induce RAW264.7 cells activation. GFP could obviously increase the proliferation index and enhance the immunostimulatory activity such as the cytokine and chemokine production. 

Meng M. 2017. Isolation, purification, structural analysis and immunostimulatory activity of water-soluble polysaccharides from Grifola Frondosa fruiting body. Laboratory of Food Nutrition and Safety, 10;157:1134-1143. 

Here, the immunomodulatory effects of water-soluble polysaccharide from Grifola frondosa on RAW264.7 macrophages and its molecular mechanisms were investigated. G. frondosa polysaccharide could obviously enhance immunostimulatory activity such as the release of nitric oxide and cytokine production. Western blotting results showed that G. frondosa polysaccharide elevated the TLR4, which might act as an upstream regulator of MyD88 induced G. frondosa polysaccharide. MyD88 promoted IKKβ in endochylema and translocate NF-κB p65 subunit into the nucleus which increased the NO production and cytokine/chemokines level. The results suggested that G. frondosapolysaccharide activated macrophages through TLR4-MyD88-IKKβ-NF-κBp65 signaling pathways.

Hou L, et al. 2017.  A water-soluble polysaccharide from Grifola frondosa induced macrophages activation via TLR4-MyD88-IKKβ-NF-κB p65 pathways. Laboratory of Food Nutrition and Safety, 23;8(49):86604-86614.   

Maitakes Immune-enhancing effects and Antitumor Properties:

Grifola frondosa, also known as maitake, is a culinary mushroom with immune-enhancing and antitumor effects. Numerous studies have investigated the activity of maitake polysaccharide extracts, but studies of maitake proteins are scarce. In this study, we purified and characterized a new G. frondosa protein, GFP, from maitake fruiting bodies. GFP is a nonglucan heterodimeric 83 kDa protein that consists of two 41 kDa subunits. GFP induced interferon-γ secretion by murine splenocytes and natural killer cells and activated the maturation of bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) via a TLR4-dependent mechanism. GFP-treated BMDCs promoted a Th1 response and exhibited significant antitumor activity when transferred into tumor-bearing mice. In conclusion, we are the first to reveal the critical role of GFP in modulating the immune response and to link the immune-enhancing effects of maitake to its antitumor activities. 

Tsao YW. 2013. Characterization of a novel maitake (Grifola frondosa) protein that activates natural killer and dendritic cells and enhances antitumor immunity in mice. Department of Horticulture, 16;61(41):9828-38.

Maitake α-glucan, YM-2A, isolated from Grifola frondosa, has been characterized as a highly α-1,6-branched α-1,4 glucan. YM-2A has been shown to possess an anti-virus effect in mice; however, it does not directly inhibit growth of the virus in vitro, indicating that the anti-virus effect of YM-2A might be associated with modulation of the host immune system. In this study, we found that oral administration of YM-2A could inhibit tumor growth and improve survival rate in two distinct mouse models of colon-26 carcinoma and B16 melanoma. Orally administered YM-2A enhanced antitumor immune response by increasing INF-γ-expressing CD4+ and CD8+ cells in the spleen and INF-γ-expressing CD8+ cells in tumor-draining lymph nodes. In vitro study showed that YM-2A directly activated splenic CD11b+ myeloid cells, peritoneal macrophages and bone marrow-derived dendritic cells, but did not affect splenic CD11b- lymphocytes or colon-26 tumor cells. YM-2A is more slowly digested by pancreatic α-amylase than are amylopectin and rabbit liver glycogen, and orally administered YM-2A enhanced the expression of MHC class II and CD86 on dendritic cells and the expression of MHC class II on macrophages in Peyer's patches. Furthermore, in vitro stimulation of YM-2A increased the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in Peyer's patch CD11c+ cells. These results suggest that orally administered YM-2A can activate dendritic cells and macrophages in Peyer's patches, inducing systemic antitumor T-cell response. Thus, YM-2A might be a candidate for an oral therapeutic agent in cancer immunotherapy. 

Masuda Y, et al. 2017.  Antitumor activity of orally administered maitake α-glucan by stimulating antitumor immune response in murine tumor. Department of Microbial Chemistry, 9;12(3):e0173621. 

Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Maitake Mushroom

The objective of the present study was to demonstrate the anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties of agaricoglycerides of the fermented mushroom of Grifola frondosa (AGF). The effects of AGF on interleukin-1β (IL-1β) levels, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) levels, nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) levels, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) levels, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) levels, and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) levels were determined by ELISA. The antinociceptive effects of AGF were also analyzed in acetic acid-induced pain model and formalin-induced inflammatory pain model, respectively. At the same time, the pharmacokinetic assay of AGF was also made. AGF at the dose level of 500 mg/kg significantly inhibited LPS-induced upregulation of NF-κB activation and the production of IL-1β, TNF-α, iNOS, ICAM-1, and COX-2. Moreover, AGF at the dose level of 500 mg/kg suppressed the acetic acid-induced abdominal constrictions (p < 0.05) and the formalin-induced spontaneous nociceptive behaviors (p < 0.05) in rats. The total plasma concentrations of drug after oral administration of AGF at the dose level of 500 mg/kg led to an improvement in oral bioavailability. It accounts for the anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activity of AGF. The present study demonstrated that AGF at the dose level of 500 mg/kg has important anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects in preclinical models of inflammation and in some models of pain and thus may be used as an alternative medicine for inflammatory pain.

Han C, et al. 2012. Pharmacological and pharmacokinetic studies with agaricoglycerides, extracted from Grifolafrondosa, in animal models of pain and inflammationSchool of Pharmacy,  35(4):1269-75.

Blood Sugar Regulating Effects of Maitake Mushroom 

Grifola frondosa is an important fungal research resource. However, there was little report about hyperglycemic activity of Grifola frondosa polysaccharide on insulin resistance in vitro. In this study, the hypoglycemic activity of a polysaccharide obtained from Grifola frondosa (GFP) on HepG2 cell and hpyerglycemic mechanism were investigated. The purity of the isolated polysaccharides was examined by HPLC. In this research, it was found that GFP enhanced the absorption of glucose of HepG2 cells in a dose dependent manner at 24 h of 30 ugmL⁻¹. GC-MS and FT-IR spectroscopy analysis results showed that glucose and galactose were the dominant monosaccharides in GFP and the major component of GFP was β-pyranoside. Western-blotting results showed that the HepG2 cell model treated with GFP activated the insulin receptor protein (IRS) in the cell membrane and increased phosphorylated-AktSer473 expression, which had an inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3). The down-regulation of GSK-3 stimulated synthesis of intracellular glycogen. The results above suggested that the GFP increased the metabolism of glucose and stimulated synthesis of intracellular glycogen through the Akt/GSK-3 pathway.

Ma X, et al. 2014. A polysaccharide from Grifola frondosa relieves insulin resistance of HepG2 cell by Akt-GSK-3 pathwayLaboratory of Food Nutrition and Safety, 31(5):355-63. 

Our laboratory has previously demonstrated that
Grifola frondosa polysaccharides (GFPs) showed hypoglycemic effects. This study aimed to investigate which polysaccharide-enriched fractions of GFPs were the main active constituents, and to disclose their hypoglycemic mechanism. F2 and F3 were obtained from GFPs and their hypoglycemic effects were investigated. Fasting serum glucose (FSG) levels, fasting serum insulin (FSI) levels and a homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) were measured, and the hepatic mRNA levels of insulin receptor (IR), insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1), protein tyrosine phosphatase-1B (PTP1B), phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and Akt/protein kinase B (PKB) were determined by a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). The activity of IR and IRS-1 were determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and their phospho-protein levels were analyzed with western blotting. F2 and F3 significantly decreased the levels of FSG, FSI and HOMA-IR compared with a diabetic control group (P < 0.05). F2 and F3 increased the activity and mRNA levels of IR, and the latter also increased the mRNA levels of IRS-1. As for the protein levels of phospho-IR and IRS-1, both F2 and F3 increased the protein levels of IR (Try 1361), but decreased IRS-1 (Ser307). In the PI3K/Akt pathway, F3 increased the mRNA levels of PI3K and Akt, however, F2 inhibited PTP1B expression. F2 and F3 are presumed to cause an improvement in insulin resistance, triggered by the reactivation of IR and IRS-1.

Xiao C, et all. 2015. Hypoglycemic effects of Grifola frondosa (Maitake) polysaccharides F2 and F3 through improvement of insulin resistance in diabetic rats. Laboratory of Applied Microbiology, 6(11):3567-75.  

The hypoglycemic effect of an α-glucan (designated here as MT-α-glucan) from the fruit body of the Maitake medicinal mushroom, Grifolafrondosa, on a murine type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) model was evaluated. Body weight and levels of fasting plasma glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin, triglycerides, cholesterol, free fatty acid, nitric oxide (NO), NO synthase, inducible NO synthase, and hepatic malondialdehyde content decreased significantly when MT-α-glucan was administered to T2DM mice. The content of serum insulin, hepatic glycogen, and reduced glutathione and the activity of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase increased significantly when MT-α-glucan was administered to T2DM mice. Histopathological changes of the pancreas were ameliorated in the treatment group. These data suggest that MT-α-glucan has a hypoglycemic effect on T2DM mice, which might be related to its protective effect of pancreatic β-cells exerted by decreasing levels of factors that destroy β-cells, such as oxidative stress and NO synthesis.

Lei H, et al. 2013. MT-α-glucan from the fruit body of the maitake medicinal mushroom Grifola frondosa (higher Basidiomyetes) shows protective effects for hypoglycemic pancreatic β-cells. Department of Biological Science, 15(4):373-81.

Iron Chef: Japan! MAITAKE -Hen of The Woods