Distribution and accumulation of dietary ergothioneine and its metabolites in mouse tissues

Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 25;8(1):1601. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-20021-z.


L-ergothioneine (ET) is a diet-derived amino acid that accumulates at high concentrations in animals and humans. Numerous studies have highlighted its antioxidant abilities in vitro, and possible cytoprotective capabilities in vivo. We investigated the uptake and distribution of ET in various organs by a highly sensitive and specific liquid chromatography coupled tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) technique, both before and after oral administration of pure ET (35 and 70 mg/kg/day for 1, 7, and 28 days) to male C57BL6J mice. ET primarily concentrates in the liver and whole blood, and also in spleen, kidney, lung, heart, intestines, eye, and brain tissues. Strong correlations were found between ET and its putative metabolites - hercynine, ET-sulfonate (ET-SO3H), and S-methyl ET. Hercynine accumulates in the brain after prolonged ET administration. This study demonstrates the uptake and distribution of ET and provides a foundation for future studies with ET to target oxidative damage in a range of tissues in human diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animal Structures / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Ergothioneine / administration & dosage
  • Ergothioneine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Antioxidants
  • Ergothioneine