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Wild mushrooms show antioxidant potential: Study

By Nathan Gray , 04-Mar-2011
Last updated on 04-Mar-2011 at 16:46 GMT2011-03-04T16:46:14Z

The roots of wild mushrooms could be important sources of bioactive compounds such as gamma- tocopherol, “to be used in pharmaceutical or food industries,” according to new research.

The study, published in LWT - Food Science and Technology, compared the antioxidant levels of anaerobic wild mushrooms that are known to produce high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS).

The authors, from the Mountain Research Centre (CIMO-ESA), Portugal, found that wild fungi mycelia (the branching roots and vegetation) possessed higher levels of total tocopherols than the mushrooms fruiting bodies. In particular P. arhizus mycelium was found “to be a powerful source of gamma-tocopherol.”

The new study adds to the growing scientific and commercial interest in mushroom extracts.Previous research has suggested that that mushrooms may have ORAC values on a par with red pepper, whilst a a mushroom extract known as AHCC (Active Hexose Correlated Compound) has been previously suggested to strengthen the immune system.

“The antioxidant properties of many organisms and particularly of wild mushrooms with their content in antioxidant compounds such as tocopherols, can detoxify potentially damaging forms of activated oxygen,” said the researchers, led by Filipa Reis from CIMO-ESA.

Antioxidant balance

Reis and colleagues explained that the maintenance of equilibrium between free radical production and antioxidant defences is an essential condition for normal organism functioning.

They said that an excess free radicals (known as oxidative stress) may damage cellular lipids, proteins and DNA – affecting normal function and leading to various disease states.

“In aerobic organisms … free radicals are constantly being produced during the normal cellular metabolism, mainly in the form of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS),” said the authors.

As a result, they said that many organisms have developed higher levels of antioxidant defences.

“Our research group has been interested in the antioxidant properties of wild mushrooms and their content in antioxidant compounds such as tocopherols,” said Reis and co-workers.

They added that the presence of such antioxidants in the diet may help our bodies endogenous defence systems to reduce oxidative damage, therefore lowering the risk of related diseases.

Study details

The fruiting bodies, mycelia, and culture media of P. involutus and P. arhizus were analysed for their content in tocopherols and antioxidant properties.

Reis and colleagues reported that fruiting bodies showed the highest antioxidant properties, including scavenging effects on free radicals and inhibition of lipid peroxidation capacity – compared to mycelia and in vitro cultures.

However they said that P. arhizus samples, especially the mycelium, were found to contain the highest total tocopherols – due to a significant contribution of gamma-tocopherol (154 micrograms per gram dry weight).

“Overall, fruiting bodies seem to have highest antioxidant properties … Nevertheless, mycelia produced higher levels of total tocopherols than fruiting bodies,” said Reis and co-workers.

“Particularly P. arhizus mycelium proved to be a powerful source of gamma-tocopherol,” they said.

Source: LWT - Food Science and Technology
Volume 44, Issue 4, Pages 820-824, doi: 0.1016/j.fct.2010.12.013
“A comparative study of tocopherols composition and antioxidant properties of in vivo and in vitro ectomycorrhizal fungi”
Authors: F.S. Reis, I.C.F.R. Ferreira, L. Barros, A. Martins

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