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J Nutr. 2007 Jun;137(6):1472-7.

Dietary supplementation with white button mushroom enhances natural killer cell activity in C57BL/6 mice.

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Nutritional Immunology Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


Mushrooms are reported to possess antitumor, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. These effects of mushrooms are suggested to be due to their ability to modulate immune cell functions. However, a majority of these studies evaluated the effect of administering extracts of exotic mushrooms through parental routes, whereas little is known about the immunological effect of a dietary intake of white button mushrooms, which represent 90% of mushrooms consumed in the U.S. In this study, we fed C57BL/6 mice a diet containing 0, 2, or 10% (wt/wt) white button mushroom powder for 10 wk and examined indices of innate and cell-mediated immunity. Mushroom supplementation enhanced natural killer (NK) cell activity, and IFNgamma and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) production, but only tended to increase IL-2 (P = 0.09) and did not affect IL-10 production by splenocytes. There were significant correlations between NK activity and production of IFNgamma (r = 0.615, P < 0.001) and TNFalpha (r = 0.423, P = 0.032) in splenocytes. Mushroom supplementation did not affect macrophage production of IL-6, TNFalpha, prostaglandin E(2), nitric oxide, and H(2)O(2), nor did it alter the percentage of total T cells, helper T cells (CD4(+)), cytotoxic or suppressive T cells (CD8(+)), regulatory T cells (CD4(+)/CD25(+)), total B cells, macrophages, and NK cells in spleens. These results suggest that increased intake of white button mushrooms may promote innate immunity against tumors and viruses through the enhancement of a key component, NK activity. This effect might be mediated through increased IFNgamma and TNFalpha production.

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