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Why It Works

Differential anti-tumor activity of coriolus versicolor (Yunzhi) extract through p53- and/or Bcl-2-dependent apoptotic pathway in human breast cancer cells.

Coriolus versicolor (CV), also called Yunzhi, has been demonstrated to exert anti-tumor effects on various types of cancer cells, but the underlying mechanism has not been fully elucidated. The present study aimed to evaluate the in vitro anti-tumor activity of a standardized aqueous ethanol extract prepared from CV on four breast cancer cell lines using MTT assay, and test whether the mechanism involves apoptosis induction and modulation of p53 and Bcl-2 protein expressions using cell death detection ELISA, p53 and Bcl-2 ELISAs respectively. Our results demonstrated that the CV extract dose-dependently suppressed the proliferation of three breast tumor cell lines, with ascending order of IC50 values: T-47D, MCF-7, MDA-MB-231, while BT-20 cells were not significantly affected. Tumoricidal activity of the CV extract was found to be comparable to a chemotherapeutic anti-cancer drug, mitomycin C. Nucleosome productions in apoptotic MDA-MB-231, MCF-7 and T-47D cells were significantly augmented in a time-dependent manner and paralleled the anti-proliferative activity of CV extract. Expression of p53 protein was significantly upregulated only in T-47D cells treated with the CV extract in a dose- and time-dependent fashion, but not in MCF-7 (except at 400 mug/ml after 16 h) and MDA-MB-231 cells. The CV extract significantly induced a dose-dependent downregulation of Bcl-2 protein expression in MCF-7 and T-47D cells, but not in MDA-MB-231 cells. These results suggested that apoptosis induction, differentially dependent of p53 and Bcl-2 expressions, might be the possible mechanism of CV extract-mediated cytotoxicity in human breast cancer cells in vitro.[…]

Antimetastatic effect of PSK, a protein-bound polysaccharide, against the B16-BL6 mouse melanoma.

We examined the effect of PSK, a protein-bound polysaccharide, upon in vivo metastasis and in vitro invasion of the B16-BL6 mouse melanoma cells. (1) PSK suppressed in vivo artificial and spontaneous lung metastases of B16-BL6 in C57BL/6 mice. (2) PSK in a dose-dependent fashion suppressed in vitro invasion and chemotaxis of the tumor cells using filters coated with a reconstituted basement membrane. (3) PSK had little effect on DNA synthesis in tumor cells in vitro, but suppressed tumor cell adhesion to […]

Anticancerous Effect of PSP Purified Products and KS-2 on Human Tumor Cell Lines in Vitro

The anticancer effects of PSP purified products, PSP-A, PSP-B, PSP-C and crude product PSP-Cr and KS-2 were compared on four human tumor cell lines in vitro. It was found that the inhibition rate of cell proliferation of PSP-A was higher than that of PSP-Cr, PSP-B and PSP-C (P<0.05). On SPC cells, the inhibition rate of PSP-A at a dosage of 1000ug/ml was 62.7%, being the highest as compared with those on the other three cell lines […]


The immunomodulating action of two mushroom antitumor polysaccharides, polysaccharide-protein complex (PSPC) and lentinan, was elucidated through analysing the expression profile of cytokines during a time course (0 h to 48 h) after their administration. Among the 5 cytokine genes, the induction of a marked increase in the mRNA levels of IL-la, IL-lp, TNF-a, IFN-)I and M-CSF by PSPC and lentinan was observed in the peritoneal exudate cells and splenocytes. However, the time point of their increased production was different after PSPC and lentinan administration.

An effect of adjuvant immunochemotherapy using krestin and 5-FU on gastric cancer patients with radical surgery (first report)–a randomized controlled trial by the cooperative study group. Study Group of Immuno-chemotherapy with PSK for Gastric Cancer

To evaluate the efficacy of PSK for adjuvant immuno-chemotherapy in patients who had undergone radical gastrectomy, a randomized controlled trial has been in progress in collaboration with 46 institutions in the Chubu district of Japan. A total of 262 patients were registered for this trial during the two years from July 1985 to June 1987 with a centralized registration system, and were allocated into the 5-FU+PSK group (Group P) and 5-FU alone group (Group C) by the minimization method following the random permuted blocks method […]

Alternating immunotherapy of advanced gastric carcinoma: A randomized comparison of carbazilquinone and PSK to carbazilquinone in patients with curative gastric resection

A total of 103 patients with advanced gastric carcinoma were randomized after curative surgery to receive an alternate administration of carabzilquinone (CQ) and PSK (Krestin) or carbazilquinone alone. Each course of therapies started 1 week after the surgical operation and therapy schedules consisted of 9 courses. In each course of 6 weeks, CQ was administered on day 0, 8, and 15. In combined immunochemotherapy group, PSK was given orally in 3-divided doses of 2g/m^2/day from the day of the third CQ administration for consecutive 4 weeks. Estimated survival rate and cumulative survival curve [….]

Molecular characterization of Coriolus versicolor PSP-induced apoptosis in human promyelotic leukemic HL-60 cells using cDNA microarray.

Proteins and peptide bound polysaccharides (PSP) extracted from Basidiomycetous fungi are widely used in cancer immunotherapy and recently demonstrated to induce apoptosis in cancer cells in vitro. In order to provide the molecular pharmacological mechanisms of PSP on human cancer cells, we investigated the gene expression profiles of PSP-treated apoptotic human promyelotic leukemic HL-60 cells using ResGen 40k IMAGE printed cDNA microarray. In total 378 and 111 transcripts were identified as differentially expressed in the apoptotic cells by at least a factor of 2 or 3, respectively. Our data show that PSP-induced apoptosis in HL-60 cells might be mediated by up-regulation of early transcription factors such as AP-1, EGR1, IER2 and IER5, and down-regulation of NF-kappaB transcription pathways. Other gene expression changes, including the increase of several apoptotic or anti-proliferation genes, such as GADD45A/B and TUSC2, and the decrease of a batch of phosphatase and kinase genes, may also provide further evidences in supporting the process of PSP induced apoptosis in cancer cells. Some of the well-characterized carcinogenesis-related gene transcripts such as SAT, DCT, Melan-A, uPA and cyclin E1 were also alternated by PSP in the HL-60 cells. These transcripts can be employed as markers for quality control of PSP products on functional levels. The present study provides new insight into the molecular mechanisms involved in PSP-induced apoptosis in leukemic HL-60 cells analyzed by cDNA microarray.[…]

Immunomodulatory activities of Yunzhi and Danshen in post-treatment breast cancer patients.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. Discomfort and fatigue are usually arisen from anticancer therapy such as surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or combination therapy, because of the suppressed immunological functions. Yunzhi (Coriolus versicolor) can modulate various immunological functions in vitro, in vivo, and in human clinical trials. Danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza) has been shown to benefit the circulatory system by its vasodilating and anti-dementia activity. The purpose of this clinical trial was to evaluate the immunomodulatory effects of Yunzhi-Danshen capsules in post-treatment breast cancer patients. Eighty-two patients with breast cancer were recruited to take Yunzhi [50 mg/kg body weight, 100% polysaccharopeptide (PSP)] and Danshen (20 mg/kg body weight) capsules every day for a total of 6 months. EDTA blood samples were collected every 2 months for the investigation of immunological functions. Flow cytometry was used to assess the percentages and absolute counts of human lymphocyte subsets in whole blood. Plasma level of soluble interleukin-2 receptor (sIL-2R) was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Results showed that the absolute counts of T-helper lymphocytes (CD4+), the ratio of T-helper (CD4+)/T suppressor and cytotoxic lymphocytes (CD8+), and the percentage and the absolute counts of B-lymphocytes were significantly elevated in patients with breast cancer after taking Yunzhi-Danshen capsules, while plasma slL-2R concentration was significantly decreased (all p < 0.05). Therefore, the regular oral consumption of Yunzhi-Danshen capsules could be beneficial for promoting immunological function in post-treatment of breast cancer patients.[…]

Lack of prevention of large intestinal cancer by VPS, an extract of Coriolus versicolor mushroom.

Cancer prevention studies were conducted with VPS, a hot water extract of the Coriolus versicolor (CV) mushroom, in female Swiss mice. The extract was administered in the diet for life to the animals. Three groups of mice received the following treatments: a). 1,2-dimethylhydrazine dihydrochloride (1,2-DMH) was administered as 10 weekly subcutaneous injections of 20 microg/g body weight, starting at 9 weeks of age; b). VPS was given at a 2% dose level starting at 7 weeks of age followed by 1,2-DMH, as described in group a; c). 1,2-DMH was administered as described in group a followed by VPS at a 2% dose level starting at 21 weeks of age. The number of animals with large intestinal tumors and the total number of these tumors were: a). 30,321; b). 29,359; and c). 28,415. These differences are not statistically significant. Because extracts of the CV mushroom are used by cancer patients as nutritional supplements in the U.S., and particularly in the Orient, the present negative result should caution its users.[…]

Polysaccharide peptides from COV-1 strain of Coriolus versicolor inhibit tolbutamide 4-hydroxylation in the rat in vitro and in vivo.

Polysaccharide peptide (PSP), isolated from COV-1 strain of Coriolus versicolor, is commonly used as an adjunct in cancer chemotherapy in China. In this study, the effects of whole PSP extract and water extract of PSP on 4-hydroxylation of tolbutamide were investigated in rat liver microsomes in vitro and in vivo in the rat. Both the whole PSP extract and the water soluble fraction (0.5-20 microM) decreased the metabolism of tolbutamide to 4-hydroxytolbutamide in vitro. Enzyme kinetics studies showed that PSP inhibited tolbutamide 4-hydroxylase activity in a competitive, concentration-dependent manner. The whole PSP extract had a Ki value of 12.6 microM and IC50 at 18.4 microM, while the water extract had a Ki value of 6.9 microM and IC50 at 9.8 microM. Sulphaphenazole, a specific human CYP2C9 inhibitor, showed a Ki value of 30.8 microM and IC50 at 44.0 microM in the test system. In the pharmacokinetic studies in vivo, acute PSP (4 micromol/kg, i.p.) treatment did not produce significant changes in tolbutamide clearance, but produced a decrease in the Cinitial (7.4%) and an increase in the Vd (7.4%). Sub-chronic pre-treatment of PSP (1-2 micromol/kg/day, i.p.) for three days did not affect the clearance and AUC of tolbutamide, but the Cinitial was decreased, together with increases in the T1/2, and Vd. The formation of 4-hydroxytolbutamide in vivo was decreased in both acute and sub-chronic studies. Taken together, this study demonstrated the PSP can inhibit tolbutamide 4-hydroxylation both in vitro and in vivo. Despite the fact that CYP isoforms that metabolise tolbutamide are different between rat and human liver due to different catalytic characteristics, and rat studies may not be directly extrapolatable to man, the concomitant use of PSP with other CYP2C substrates should be carefully monitored.[…]