Background: Mushrooms are not only regarded as gourmet cuisine but also as therapeutic agent to promote cognition health. However, little toxicological information is available regarding their safety. Therefore, the aim of this study was to screen selected ethno-pharmacologically important mushrooms for stimulatory effects on neurite outgrowth and to test for any cytotoxicity.
Methods: The stimulatory effect of mushrooms on neurite outgrowth was assessed in differentiating mouse neuroblastoma (N2a) cells. Neurite length was measured using Image-Pro Insight processor system. Neuritogenesis activity was further validated by fluorescence immunocytochemical staining of neurofilaments. In vitro cytotoxicity was investigated by using mouse embryonic fibroblast (BALB/3T3) and N2a cells for any embryo- and neuro-toxic effects; respectively.
Results: Aqueous extracts of Ganoderma lucidum, Lignosus rhinocerotis, Pleurotus giganteus and Grifola frondosa; as well as an ethanol extract of Cordyceps militaris significantly (p < 0.05) promoted the neurite outgrowth in N2a cells by 38.4 ± 4.2%, 38.1 ± 2.6%, 33.4 ± 4.6%, 33.7 ± 1.5%, and 35.8 ± 3.4%; respectively. The IC50 values obtained from tetrazolium (MTT), neutral red uptake (NRU) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release assays showed no toxic effects following 24 h exposure of N2a and 3T3 cells to mushroom extracts.
Conclusion: Our results indicate that G. lucidum, L. rhinocerotis, P. giganteus, G. frondosa and C. militaris may be developed as safe and healthy dietary supplements for brain and cognitive health.