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Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms: Emerging Brain Food for the Mitigation of Neurodegenerative Diseases

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Journal of Medicinal Food

Mary Ann Liebert Inc

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      Medicinal mushrooms as a source of antitumor and immunomodulating polysaccharides.

      The number of mushrooms on Earth is estimated at 140,000, yet maybe only 10% (approximately 14,000 named species) are known. Mushrooms comprise a vast and yet largely untapped source of powerful new pharmaceutical products. In particular, and most importantly for modern medicine, they represent an unlimited source of polysaccharides with antitumor and immunostimulating properties. Many, if not all, Basidiomycetes mushrooms contain biologically active polysaccharides in fruit bodies, cultured mycelium, culture broth. Data on mushroom polysaccharides have been collected from 651 species and 7 infraspecific taxa from 182 genera of higher Hetero- and Homobasidiomycetes. These polysaccharides are of different chemical composition, with most belonging to the group of beta-glucans; these have beta-(1-->3) linkages in the main chain of the glucan and additional beta-(1-->6) branch points that are needed for their antitumor action. High molecular weight glucans appear to be more effective than those of low molecular weight. Chemical modification is often carried out to improve the antitumor activity of polysaccharides and their clinical qualities (mostly water solubility). The main procedures used for chemical improvement are: Smith degradation (oxydo-reducto-hydrolysis), formolysis, and carboxymethylation. Most of the clinical evidence for antitumor activity comes from the commercial polysaccharides lentinan, PSK (krestin), and schizophyllan, but polysaccharides of some other promising medicinal mushroom species also show good results. Their activity is especially beneficial in clinics when used in conjunction with chemotherapy. Mushroom polysaccharides prevent oncogenesis, show direct antitumor activity against various allogeneic and syngeneic tumors, and prevent tumor metastasis. Polysaccharides from mushrooms do not attack cancer cells directly, but produce their antitumor effects by activating different immune responses in the host. The antitumor action of polysaccharides requires an intact T-cell component; their activity is mediated through a thymus-dependent immune mechanism. Practical application is dependent not only on biological properties, but also on biotechnological availability. The present review analyzes the pecularities of polysaccharides derived from fruiting bodies and cultured mycelium (the two main methods of biotechnological production today) in selected examples of medicinal mushrooms.
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        Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.

        Turmeric, derived from the plant Curcuma longa, is a gold-colored spice commonly used in the Indian subcontinent, not only for health care but also for the preservation of food and as a yellow dye for textiles. Curcumin, which gives the yellow color to turmeric, was first isolated almost two centuries ago, and its structure as diferuloylmethane was determined in 1910. Since the time of Ayurveda (1900 Bc) numerous therapeutic activities have been assigned to turmeric for a wide variety of diseases and conditions, including those of the skin, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal systems, aches, pains, wounds, sprains, and liver disorders. Extensive research within the last half century has proven that most of these activities, once associated with turmeric, are due to curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and other chronic illnesses. These effects are mediated through the regulation of various transcription factors, growth factors, inflammatory cytokines, protein kinases, and other enzymes. Curcumin exhibits activities similar to recently discovered tumor necrosis factor blockers (e.g., HUMIRA, REMICADE, and ENBREL), a vascular endothelial cell growth factor blocker (e.g., AVASTIN), human epidermal growth factor receptor blockers (e.g., ERBITUX, ERLOTINIB, and GEFTINIB), and a HER2 blocker (e.g., HERCEPTIN). Considering the recent scientific bandwagon that multitargeted therapy is better than monotargeted therapy for most diseases, curcumin can be considered an ideal "Spice for Life".
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          GDNF, NGF and BDNF as therapeutic options for neurodegeneration.

          Glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), and the neurotrophin nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are important for the survival, maintenance and regeneration of specific neuronal populations in the adult brain. Depletion of these neurotrophic factors has been linked with disease pathology and symptoms, and replacement strategies are considered as potential therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's diseases. GDNF administration has recently been shown to be an effective treatment for Parkinson's disease, with clinical trials currently in progress. Trials with NGF for Alzheimer's disease are ongoing, with some degree of success. Preclinical results using BDNF also show much promise, although there are accompanying difficulties. Ultimately, the administration of a therapy involving proteins in the brain has inherent problems. Because of the blood-brain-barrier, the protein must be infused directly, produced by viral constructs, secreted from implanted protein-secreting cells or actively transported across the brain. An alternative to this is the use of a small molecule agonist, a modulator or enhancer targeting the associated receptors. We evaluate these neurotrophic factors as potential short or long-term treatments, weighing up preclinical and clinical results with the possible effects on the underlying neurodegenerative process. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Journal of Medicinal Food
            Journal of Medicinal Food
            Mary Ann Liebert Inc
            1096-620X
            1557-7600
            January 2017
            January 2017
            : 20
            : 1
            : 1-10
            10.1089/jmf.2016.3740
            © 2017

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