Mushroom extract may improve immune function in older women: Study

By Olivia DeSmit

- Last updated on GMT

© manassanant pamai / Getty Images
© manassanant pamai / Getty Images

Related tags reishi Cordyceps Immune health

Ganoderma lucidum, more commonly known as reishi, may help to enhance immune response and contribute to regulatory mechanisms and an anti-inflammatory response. A recent study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found the mushroom helped to modulate T lymphocyte function in a group of older women.

"[O]ur study demonstrates that the supplementing with 2,000 mg/day of whole Ganoderma lucidum​ extract for eight weeks positively regulates the expression of genes associated with activating Th1, Th2 and Th17 cell profiles," the study authors from Brazil wrote. "The shift toward a Th2 profile […] suggests a predominance of an anti-inflammatory response."


As people age, they experience immunosenescence, which is a decrease in immune function, both innate and adaptive. The function, activation and differentiation of T lymphocytes has been shown to be impaired in the elderly, leading to an immune imbalance.

Aging is also associated with a persistent low-level state of inflammation. Adaptive immunity is mediated by both T and B lymphocytes, and natural aging decreases T cell production. Thus, the authors sought to test the effects of Ganoderma lucidum​ on immunosenescence in the context of T lymphocyte function.

The mushroom has an immunomodulatory capacity in which it can help increase T and B lymphocytes. Prior literature has also shown it to have antiviral and antibacterial effects due to its modulation of the immune system; it is also a rich source of polysaccharides which can modulate adaptive and innate immune responses.

"Therefore, Ganoderma lucidum​ supplements can be crucial in correcting the immunosenescence-associated immune lymphocyte imbalance," the study noted.

Study details

The authors used isolated components of Ganoderma lucidum​, mainly beta glucans, which can stimulate leukocyte functions and have the potential for antiaging therapeutic benefits.

For this study, 39 women between the ages of 60 and 80 were divided into two groups: one consumed a placebo and the other 2,000 mg of Ganoderma lucidum​ for eight weeks. Blood and urine were collected and analyzed before and after the eight-week period. Body mass index, lymphocytes and gene expression were analyzed.

Body mass composition did not change in either group. Following the supplementation period, certain gene expressions, such as IL6 and TNF alpha, were higher for participants in the supplement group. IL-2 gene expression was also elevated in this group after eight weeks, suggesting the cytokine may mediate a regulatory mechanism.

“This observed increase in lymphocyte proliferation and the associated upregulation of IL-2 gene expression in Ganoderma lucidum​ post-supplementation may signify a positive impact of Ganoderma lucidum​ on the TCR signaling pathway, contributing to enhanced immune response and regulatory mechanisms," the authors wrote. "Therefore, our data suggest that Ganoderma lucidum​ may regulate other co-stimulatory molecules involved in lymphocytic proliferation."


Source: The British Journal of Nutrition
2024, May 27. doi: 10.1017/S0007114524001144
Ganoderma lucidum ​dry extract supplementation modulates T lymphocyte function in older women”
Authors: Iser-Bem, P. et al.

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