Composition and mechanism of antitumor effects of Hericium erinaceus mushroom extracts in tumor-bearing mice

J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Sep 28;59(18):9861-9. doi: 10.1021/jf201944n. Epub 2011 Aug 25.


We investigated antitumor effects of the following four extracts of freeze-dried Hericium erinaceus mushrooms in Balb/c mice intracutaneously transplanted on the backs with CT-26 colon cancer cells: HWE, hot water extraction by boiling in water for 3 h; MWE, microwaving in 50% ethanol/water at 60 W for 3 min; and ACE and AKE, boiling in 1% HCl or 3% NaOH for 2 h. HWE and MWE with a higher content of β-glucans, determined by an assay kit, than ACE and MKE were active in all bioassays. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analyses showed the presence of 40, 27, 16, and 13 compounds, respectively, in the four extracts. Daily intraperitoneal (ip) injections of HWE and MWE for 2 weeks significantly reduced tumor weights by 38 and 41%. Tumor regressions were associated with changes in the following cancer biomarkers as compared to phosphate buffer (PBS)-treated control mice: 2.7- and 2.4-fold increases in cytolytic activity of splenic natural killer (NK) cells; restored nitric oxide production and phagocytosis in peritoneal macrophages to 95-98% of normal levels; ∼2-fold increase in released pro-inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β, and interleukin-6 from macrophages; and ∼56 and ∼60% reductions in the number of blood vessels inside the tumor. The pro-angiogenic factors vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2), and 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) were also significantly reduced in mRNA and protein expression by tumor genes. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay of tumor cells confirmed reduced expression of COX-2 and 5-LOX (32 and 31%). Reduced COX-2 and 5-LOX expression down-regulated VEGF expression, resulting in inhibition of neo-angiogenesis inside the tumors. The results indicate that induction of NK activity, activation of macrophages, and inhibition of angiogenesis all contribute to the mechanism of reduction of tumor size.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Basidiomycota / chemistry*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colonic Neoplasms
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology


  • Antineoplastic Agents