Basidiomycetes of the genus Hericium are among the most praised medicinal and edible mushrooms, which are known to produce secondary metabolites with the potential to treat neurodegenerative diseases. This activity has been attributed to the discovery of various terpenoids that can stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) or (as established more recently) brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in cell-based bioassays. The present study reports on the metabolite profiles of a Lion's Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) strain and a strain of the rare species, Hericium flagellum (synonym H. alpestre). While we observed highly similar metabolite profiles between the two strains that were examined, we isolated two previously undescribed metabolites, given the trivial names erinacines Z1 and Z2. Their chemical structures were elucidated by means of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and high resolution mass spectrometry. Along with six further, previously identified cyathane diterpenes, the novel erinacines were tested for neurotrophin inducing effects. We found that erinacines act on BDNF, which is a neurotrophic factor that has been reported recently by us to be induced by the corallocins, but as well on NGF expression, which is consistent with the literature.
Keywords: Basidiomycota; fermentation; fungal metabolites; natural products; neurotrophic activity.