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Immunomodulatory capacity of Agaricus blazei

Antibodies in blood stream

Due to the fact that Agaricus blazei Murill contains a high level of beta glucans, compounds known for stimulating the immune system, the fungus is used in oncological therapy in Japan and Brazil. In addition to beta-glucans, the mushroom's effect on the immune system is believed to be due to other polysaccharides such as alpha-glucans.

Over the last decade, the beneficial influence of Agaricus blazei Murill has been evaluated and documented in many scientific studies and some clinical trials. The majority of data published in peer-reviewed journals showed that AB conveys a variety of health benefits due to its modulation of the immune system when used as a supplement.

This modulation is partly caused by a group of extremely efficient immune-stimulants called glucans (Beta-1,3-D-glucans and Beta-1,6-D-glucans that are almost identical chemically and only differently chained together), which are very active constituents of ABM. There are also other immuno-modulating substances such as proteoglucans (also containing proteins) and estradiol. Agaricus blazei Murill extracts, similar to glucans, enhance innate immunity by targeting immune cells such as macrophages, monocytes, dendritic cells, polymononuclear leukocytes (PMN) and NK (natural killer) cells. In short, glucans - the main known active components of AB - are potent activators of these phagocytic cells.

Why is this so important?

Phagocytic cells are our first line of defense and play a crucial role in fending off any intruders. These cells ingest invading pathogens, including viruses, bacteria and others and further stimulate innate and adaptive immunity through antigen-presentation and secretion of cytokines and chemokines (chemical signal substances or messengers that attract other immune cells chemotactically towards the increasing concentration of the substance at the source). Macrophage-derived cytokines play an important role in intercellular communication. The AB extract is a potent stimulus for cytokine production, which improves "inter-cell talk" to fight off the invading agents more efficiently. Another way in which AB active components help the human immune system is the boost they provide to natural killer (NK) cells and NK T cells, which are experts in antitumor defense. Dendritic cells, our foremost antigen-presenting cells, are directors of the immune system and orchestrate the linking of innate and adaptive immunity.

The reason for the forceful and swift engagement of innate immunity when encountering an edible and harmless mushroom such as ABM, is its shearing of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMP) with other highly poisonous and health-threatening fungi and mushrooms. PAMP, such beta-glucans, which form the main cell wall skeleton in mushrooms and as fungi, are recognized immediately by so-called pattern-recognition receptors (Kumagai 2010), such as TLR2, dectin-1 and CR3. Thus scientific data shows that the Agaricus polysaccharides have significant immuno-activating power.

A healthy and strong immune system is crucial for a healthy body. AB's strong potency to boost immune responses is one of the most important properties of this medicinal mushroom. However it is very important to point out that not all extracts of AB exhibit similar properties. AndoSan is the extract of AB, which has been shown to have the strongest immuno-modulating properties when compared with other AB extracts in a deadly bacterial sepsis model on a mouse. This is why AndoSan is an obvious choice and is widely recognized by the medical society.

Various extracts, different properties

A healthy and strong immune system is crucial for a healthy body. One of the most important properties of Agaricus blazei is the ability to boost immune responses. However, it is essential to point out that not all extracts of ABM exhibit similar properties. AndoSan is a particular extract containing mostly ABM but also two other related mushrooms. It has been demonstrated to have the strongest immuno-modulating properties, as shown in bacterial sepsis survival experiments in mouse models. Due to the outcome of this blinded comparison study, in which the researchers did not know the identity of the different ABM extracts examined, AndoSan became the choice for further studies, including on-going clinical trials on cancer patients and patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. The latter study was prompted by an anti-inflammatory effect of AndoSan observed in healthy volunteers. AndoSan is therefore now being widely recognized by the medical society.

The beneficial influence of Agaricus blazei has been evaluated and documented in many scientific studies. Collected data clearly showed that ABM is rich in biological response modifiers such as proteoglucans and beta-glucans, which are potent stimulators of phagocytic cells such as monocytes, macrophages and polymorphonuclear leukocytes as well as dedritic cells and NK cells. The active components of ABM are main structural components in the cell wall of yeast and fungi but are also found in plants like barley.

ABM-derived stimulants efficiently activate immune cells; this is especially demonstrated in many experiments with the phagocytes; monocytes and macrophages. This effect is mediated via binding of beta-glucans and other modulating sugars (e.g. proteoglucans) to receptors present on the surface of immune cells, such as the complement receptor 3, Toll-like receptor 2 and dectin-1. When these receptors are engaged, signals are transmitted into the immune cells stimulating them to produce and release biologically active mediators such as cytokines that are signal substances needed in the communication with other immune cells, nitric oxide and hydrogen peroxide that directly kills invading microbes.

Since AndoSan does not have a direct bacteria-killing effect, its action on bacterial sepsis is via modulation of cells and cascade defense like complement of the innate immune system. Dendritic cells are directors of the immune system, linking together innate and adaptive immune responses. NK T cells, which also are affected by Agaricus blazei, are especially important in cancer defense.