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Clin Nutr. 2004 Apr;23(2):183-93.

L-ergothioneine modulates oxidative damage in the kidney and liver of rats in vivo: studies upon the profile of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

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Dipartimento di Biologia Sperimentale, Sezione Patologia Sperimentale, Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Cittadella Universitaria SS 554, 09042 Monserrato, Cagliari, Italy.



L-ergothioneine is a fungal metabolite exhibiting antioxidant functions in cells. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of oral administration of L-ergothioneine on the oxidative damage in vivo caused by the Fenton reagent ferric-nitrilotriacetate.


Rats were supplemented with L-ergo prior to the administration of acute dose of ferric-nitrilotriacetate. Kidney and liver levels of L-ergothioneine, glutathione, alpha-tocopherol, polyunsaturated fatty acids and conjugated dienes were assessed.


Oral administration of 70 mg L-ergo/kg body weight of rats for 7 days prior to the injection of ferric-nitrilotriacetate protected the fatty acids against oxidation, with notable protections directed to: 20:5 (eicosapentaenoic acid) (23%), 22:6 (docosahexaenoinic acid) (30%), 20:3 n6 (eicosatrienoic acid) (22%), 20:4 (arachidonic acid) (25%), 18:2 linoleic acid (25%) and 18:1 oleic acid (14%) in the kidney. The protection of 20:5, 20:3 n6 and 18:1 in the liver by 32%, 20% and 11%, respectively, were statistically significant. L-ergothioneine significantly reduced kidney and liver levels of conjugated dienes and conserved the concentrations of alpha-tocopherol and glutathione in the kidney and liver in the ferric-nitrilotriacetate/L-ergothioneine treated rats.


Supplementation with L-ergothioneine not only protects the organs against the lipid peroxidation but conserves the consumption of endogenous glutathione and alpha-tocopherol. However consumption of mushrooms may have better promise as dietary sources of L-ergothioneine to humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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