Ganoderma lucidum, a fungus used in traditional Chinese medicine, produces polysaccharides and oxygenated triterpenoids with a very broad spectrum of biological activities and pharmacological functions. Among the Ganoderma triterpenoids, many pairs of C-3 alpha/beta stereoisomers and C-3/C-15 positional isomers have been identified. Biosynthetic study has indicated that the C-3alpha series of oxygenated triterpenoids is derived from the C-3beta series via an oxidation-reduction pathway. The interaction of Ganoderma triterpenoids with human platelets in the induction of aggregation and inhibition of agonist-induced aggregation and signal transduction has been elucidated. Reduction of cellular mevalonate content to a stage in which cholesterol synthesis is strongly inhibited and cell growth is marginally arrested sensitizes hepatoma cells to the oxygenated triterpenoids. A combination treatment of lovastatin and Ganoderma triterpenoids in animal studies has exhibited a potential anticancer effect.
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