Edible Mushrooms Reduce Atherosclerosis in Ldlr-/- Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet

J Nutr. 2019 Aug 1;149(8):1377-1384. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz075.


Background: Commonly consumed mushrooms, portobello (PBM) and shiitake (SHM), are abundant in nutrients, soluble dietary fibers, and bioactive compounds that have been implicated as beneficial in reducing inflammation, improving lipid profiles, and ameliorating heart disease and atherosclerosis, an inflammatory disease of the arteries.

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine effects of PBM and SHM in preventing atherosclerosis and associated inflammation in an animal model.

Methods: Four-week-old Ldlr-/- male mice were divided into 5 dietary groups for 16 wk: a low-fat control (LF-C, 11 kcal% fat), high-fat control (HF-C, 18.9 kcal% fat), HF + 10% (wt:wt) PBM (HF-PBM, 19.5 kcal% fat) or SHM (HF-SHM, 19.7 kcal% fat) powder, and HF + mushroom control mix (MIX-C, 19.6 kcal% fat), a diet best matched to the average macronutrient content of both mushrooms. Body composition was measured using MRI. Aortic tricuspid valves and aortas were collected and stained to quantify plaque formation. Adhesion molecule expression was quantified by immunohistochemistry. Plasma lipid and cytokine concentrations were measured.

Results: We found that mice fed a HF-SHM diet had ∼86% smaller aortic lesion area than mice in both HF-C (P < 0.01) and MIX-C (P < 0.01) groups and also expressed 31-48% lower vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 levels (P < 0.05) than all other groups. Similarly, HF-PBM-fed mice displayed a 70% reduction in aortic lesion area in the tricuspid valve only (P < 0.05). Both mushroom-fed groups had lower weight gain and fat mass (P < 0.05) than the control groups.

Conclusion: These results suggest that consumption of PBMs and particularly SHMs is effective in preventing development of high-fat diet-induced atherosclerosis in Ldlr-/- mice. Future studies will determine active components in mushrooms responsible for this beneficial effect.

Keywords: Ldlr−/− mice; atherosclerosis; edible mushrooms; heart disease; high-fat diet; portobello; shiitake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agaricales*
  • Animals
  • Aorta / metabolism
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control*
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Organ Size
  • Receptors, LDL / genetics*
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Lipids
  • Receptors, LDL
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1