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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2014 Apr;26:162-73. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2014.01.010. Epub 2014 Feb 8.

Bioactive fungal polysaccharides as potential functional ingredients in food and nutraceuticals.

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Technological Educational Institute (TEI) of Thessaly, Department of Food Technology, Lab of Food Microbiology and Biotechnology, End of N. Temponera Street, 43100 Karditsa, Greece. Electronic address:


Fungal bioactive polysaccharides deriving mainly from the Basidiomycetes family (and some from the Ascomycetes) and medicinal mushrooms have been well known and widely used in far Asia as part of traditional diet and medicine, and in the last decades have been the core of intense research for the understanding and the utilization of their medicinal properties in naturally produced pharmaceuticals. In fact, some of these biopolymers (mainly β-glucans or heteropolysaccharides) have already made their way to the market as antitumor, immunostimulating or prophylactic drugs. The fact that many of these biopolymers are produced by edible mushrooms makes them also very good candidates for the formulation of novel functional foods and nutraceuticals without any serious safety concerns, in order to make use of their immunomodulating, anticancer, antimicrobial, hypocholesterolemic, hypoglycemic and health-promoting properties. This article summarizes the most important properties and applications of bioactive fungal polysaccharides and discusses the latest developments on the utilization of these biopolymers in human nutrition.

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