Mushroom polysaccharides are active medicinal compounds that possess immune-modulatory and anticancer properties. Currently, the mushroom polysaccharides krestin, lentinan, and polysaccharopeptides are used as anticancer drugs. They are an unexplored source of natural products with huge potential in both the medicinal and nutraceutical industries. The northern parts of Pakistan have a rich biodiversity of mushrooms that grow during different seasons of the year. Here we selected an edible Morchella esculenta (true morels) of the Ascomycota group for polysaccharide isolation and characterization. Polysaccharopeptides and polysaccharides from this mushroom were isolated using the green chemistry, hot water treatment method. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy revealed the sugar nature and possible beta-glucan type structure of these polysaccharides. Antioxidant assays showed that the deproteinized polysaccharides have moderate free radical scavenging activity. These isolated polysaccharides exhibited good acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyryl cholinesterase (BChE) inhibition activities. Therefore, these polysaccharides may be valuable for the treatment of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Further bioassays are needed to discover the true potential of M. esculenta polysaccharides for medicinal purposes.
Keywords: Morchella esculenta; anticholinesterase activity; antioxidant; polysaccharopeptides; tyrosinase inhibition.