Ergothioneine levels in an elderly population decrease with age and incidence of cognitive decline; a risk factor for neurodegeneration?

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2016 Sep 9;478(1):162-167. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2016.07.074. Epub 2016 Jul 19.


Ergothioneine (ET), a naturally occurring thione, can accumulate in the human body at high concentrations from diet. Following absorption via a specific transporter, OCTN1, ET may accumulate preferentially in tissues predisposed to higher levels of oxidative stress and inflammation. Given its potential cytoprotective effects, we examined how ET levels change with age. We found that whole blood ET levels in elderly individuals decline significantly beyond 60 years of age. Additionally, a subset of these subjects with mild cognitive impairment had significantly lower plasma ET levels compared with age-matched subjects. This decline suggests that deficiency in ET may be a risk factor, predisposing individuals to neurodegenerative diseases.

Keywords: Ageing; Antioxidant; Ergothioneine; Neurodegeneration; Risk factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / blood*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / epidemiology*
  • Ergothioneine / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / blood*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diagnosis
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Singapore / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Ergothioneine