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J Nat Prod. 2004 Feb;67(2):300-10.

Biologically active compounds from Aphyllophorales (polypore) fungi.

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Department of Pharmacognosy and National Center for Natural Product Research, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, The University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi 38677-1848, USA.


This review describes biologically active natural products isolated from Aphyllophorales, many of which are known as polypores. Polypores are a large group of terrestrial fungi of the phylum Basdiomycota (basidiomycetes), and they along with certain Ascomycota are a major source of pharmacologically active substances. There are about 25 000 species of basidiomycetes, of which about 500 are members of the Aphyllophorales, a polyphyletic group that contains the polypores. Many of these fungi have circumboreal distributions in North America, Europe, and Asia and broad distributions on all inhabited continents and Africa; only a small number of the most common species with the most obvious fruiting bodies (basidiocarps) have been evaluated for biological activity. An estimated 75% of polypore fungi that have been tested show strong antimicrobial activity, and these may constitute a good source for developing new antibiotics. Numerous compounds from these fungi also display antiviral, cytotoxic, and/or antineoplastic activities. Additional important components of this vast arsenal of compounds are polysaccharides derived from the fungal cell walls. These compounds have attracted significant attention in recent years because of their immunomodulatory activities, resulting in antitumor effects. These high molecular weight compounds, often called biological response modifiers (BRM), or immunopotentiators, prevent carcinogenesis, show direct anticancer effects, and prevent tumor metastasis. Some of the protein-bound polysaccharides from polypores and other basidiomycetes have found their way to the market in Japan as anticancer drugs. Finally, numerous compounds with cardiovascular, phytotoxic, immunomodulatory, analgesic, antidiabetic, antioxidant, insecticidal, and nematocidal activities, isolated from polypores, are also presented. In fact many of the fungi mentioned in this paper have long been used in herbal medicine, including polypores such as Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi or Ling Zhi), Laetiporus sulphureus (Chicken-of-the-Woods), Trametes versicolor (Yun Zhi), Grifola umbellata (Zhu Lin), Inonotus obliquus (Chaga), and Wolfiporia cocos (Hoelen).

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