The bioavailability of ergothioneine from mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) and the acute effects on antioxidant capacity and biomarkers of inflammation

Prev Med. 2012 May:54 Suppl:S75-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.12.028. Epub 2011 Dec 31.


Background: Ergothioneine (ET) is a sulfur containing amino acid that functions as an antioxidant. Mushrooms are a primary source of ET containing from 0.4 to 2.0mg/g (dry-weight). The bioavailability of ET from mushrooms in humans remains unclear.

Objective: We evaluated the bioavailability of ET in healthy men (n=10) in a pilot study, using a randomized, cross-over, dose-response, postprandial time-course design, conducted at the General Clinical Research Center at Pennsylvania State University in 2009.

Method: ET was administered through a mushroom test meal containing 8 g and 16 g of mushroom powder. Postprandial red blood cell concentrations of ET were measured. Plasma glucose, triglycerides, HDL, LDL and total cholesterol also were monitored. Biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress were evaluated using C-reactive protein and ORAC(total).

Results: ET was bioavailable after consuming mushrooms and a trend in the postprandial triglyceride response indicated that there was a blunting effect after both the 8 g and 16 g ET doses were compared with the 0 g dose. Despite ET's antioxidant properties, ORAC(total) values decreased after the 8 g and 16 g mushroom meal.

Conclusions: Ergothioneine from A. bisporus mushrooms is bioavailable as assessed by red blood cell uptake postprandially, and consumption is associated with an attenuated postprandial TG response.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agaricales / chemistry*
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Biological Availability
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Ergothioneine / administration & dosage
  • Ergothioneine / blood
  • Ergothioneine / metabolism
  • Ergothioneine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Ergothioneine