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PLoS One. 2013 Oct 18;8(10):e76362. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076362. eCollection 2013.

Vitamin D2-enriched button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) improves memory in both wild type and APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice.

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Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Preventative Health Flagship, Animal, Food and Health Sciences, Werribee, Victoria, Australia.


Vitamin D deficiency is widespread, affecting over 30% of adult Australians, and increasing up to 80% for at-risk groups including the elderly (age>65). The role for Vitamin D in development of the central nervous system is supported by the association between Vitamin D deficiency and incidence of neurological and psychiatric disorders including Alzheimer's disease (AD). A reported positive relationship between Vitamin D status and cognitive performance suggests that restoring Vitamin D status might provide a cognitive benefit to those with Vitamin D deficiency. Mushrooms are a rich source of ergosterol, which can be converted to Vitamin D2 by treatment with UV light, presenting a new and convenient dietary source of Vitamin D2. We hypothesised that Vitamin D2-enriched mushrooms (VDM) could prevent the cognitive and pathological abnormalities associated with dementia. Two month old wild type (B6C3) and AD transgenic (APPSwe/PS1dE9) mice were fed a diet either deficient in Vitamin D2 or a diet which was supplemented with VDM, containing 1±0.2 µg/kg (∼54 IU/kg) vitamin D2, for 7 months. Effects of the dietary intervention on memory were assessed pre- and post-feeding. Brain sections were evaluated for amyloid β (Aβ) plaque loads and inflammation biomarkers using immuno-histochemical methods. Plasma vitamin D metabolites, Aβ40, Aβ42, calcium, protein and cholesterol were measured using biochemical assays. Compared with mice on the control diet, VDM-fed wild type and AD transgenic mice displayed improved learning and memory, had significantly reduced amyloid plaque load and glial fibrillary acidic protein, and elevated interleukin-10 in the brain. The results suggest that VDM might provide a dietary source of Vitamin D2 and other bioactives for preventing memory-impairment in dementia. This study supports the need for a randomised clinical trial to determine whether or not VDM consumption can benefit cognitive performance in the wider population.

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