Potential antitumor activity of a low-molecular-weight protein fraction from Grifola frondosa through enhancement of cytokine production

J Med Food. 2010 Feb;13(1):20-30. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2009.1029.


Edible mushrooms contain an abundance of immune-enhancing nutritients. Some of these compounds, referred to as biological response modifiers (BRMs), have been used in biological therapies for cancer treatment. We obtained a low-molecular-weight protein fraction (MLP-Fraction) from the fruiting body of the maitake mushroom Grifola frondosa by multiple sequential steps, including ethanol precipitation, DEAE-exchange chromatography, and gel filtration. The effect of the MLP-Fraction on the immune system was determined using normal mice. This resulted in a simultaneous increase in splenocyte proliferation and production of cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-1alpha, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, IL-10, IL-12, and interferon (IFN)-gamma. The expression levels of IFN-gamma and IL-12 in antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and the activation of natural killer (NK) cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells were observed. These results suggest a mechanism in which NK cells are activated through cytokines produced by APCs. We also confirmed the possibility that the MLP-Fraction acts as a BRM using colon-26 carcinoma-bearing mice. This fraction enhanced the production of IL-12 and IFN-gamma by splenocytes in tumor-bearing mice and clearly showed an inhibitory effect on tumor cell growth.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma / immunology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fruiting Bodies, Fungal
  • Fungal Proteins / pharmacology
  • Fungal Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Grifola / chemistry*
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Reference Values
  • Spleen / drug effects
  • Spleen / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Immunologic Factors