Age is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease including heart disease. The aim of this study was to investigate chemical composition and structure of Auricularia auricula polysaccharides and its effect in improving heart function by examining blood and heart antioxidant enzyme activity and heart function parameters, e.g. left ventricle ejection fraction (EF), Left ventricular short axis fractional shortening (FS) in aged mice after giving the polysaccharides 40 days. GC-MS showed that monosaccharide composition of A. auricula polysaccharides was glucose (72%), mannose (8%), xylose (10%) and fucose (10%). FT-IR spectra obtained from A. auricula polysaccharides had peaks at about 3500 cm(-1) and 500 cm(-1) in the carbohydrate region. These are characteristic of polysaccharides. In all spectra, the absorption between 1500 cm(-1) and 670 cm(-1) may be attributed to bands of C-H, C-O and O-H in the polysaccharides. Pharmacological experiment indicated that aged mice showed a significant (P<0.01) decline in immune, antioxidant activities, EF and FS values. All abnormal immune, antioxidant enzymes, EF and FS parameters tested in aged mice were greatly (P<0.01) ameliorated following A. auricula polysaccharides administration. In conclusion, A. auricula polysaccharides treatment could improve heart function through its strong antioxidant activity.
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