Mushrooms have long been used not only as food but also for the treatment of various ailments. Although at its infancy, accumulated evidence suggested that culinary-medicinal mushrooms may play an important role in the prevention of many age-associated neurological dysfunctions, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Therefore, efforts have been devoted to a search for more mushroom species that may improve memory and cognition functions. Such mushrooms include Hericium erinaceus, Ganoderma lucidum, Sarcodon spp., Antrodia camphorata, Pleurotus giganteus, Lignosus rhinocerotis, Grifola frondosa, and many more. Here, we review over 20 different brain-improving culinary-medicinal mushrooms and at least 80 different bioactive secondary metabolites isolated from them. The mushrooms (either extracts from basidiocarps/mycelia or isolated compounds) reduced beta amyloid-induced neurotoxicity and had anti-acetylcholinesterase, neurite outgrowth stimulation, nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis, neuroprotective, antioxidant, and anti-(neuro)inflammatory effects. The in vitro and in vivo studies on the molecular mechanisms responsible for the bioactive effects of mushrooms are also discussed. Mushrooms can be considered as useful therapeutic agents in the management and/or treatment of neurodegeneration diseases. However, this review focuses on in vitro evidence and clinical trials with humans are needed.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; antioxidant; culinary-medicinal mushroom; nerve regeneration; neurite outgrowth; neurodegeneration; neuroprotection; secondary metabolite.