Unlocking the Anti-Tumor Potential of Shiitake Mushrooms: A Closer Look

6/9/20211 min read

Shiitake mushrooms, known scientifically as Lentinula edodes, have been a staple in Asian cuisine for centuries. We reviewed some of the potential health benefits in our last post and here we dive a little deeper into research indicating some of their potent anti-cancer properties as explored in a landmark study titled “Anti-tumor effect of β-glucan from Lentinus edodes and the underlying mechanism” .

Study Design:

The research was designed to explore the impact of beta-glucan extracted from Shiitake mushrooms on tumor growth. The study utilized a murine model, where mice were implanted with S-180 sarcoma cells to induce tumor growth. The experimental group was treated with Lentinan (LNT), a purified form of beta-glucan, while the control group received no such treatment.

Key Findings:

  1. Inhibition of Tumor Growth: The study observed a significant reduction in tumor size in the LNT-treated group compared to the control group. This finding suggests that LNT has a potent anti-tumor effect.

  2. Induction of Apoptosis: The research showed that LNT treatment led to increased apoptosis (programmed cell death) in tumor cells, which is a desirable outcome in cancer therapy.

  3. Suppression of Cell Proliferation: LNT also inhibited the proliferation of cancer cells, further contributing to its anti-tumor effect.

  4. Immune System Activation: Notably, LNT treatment resulted in the infiltration of immune cells into the tumor tissues. This indicates that LNT may also work by stimulating the body’s immune response against cancer cells.

Mechanisms Explored:

It was found that the anti-tumor activity of LNT involved caspase- and p53-dependent signaling pathways, which are crucial in the regulation of cell death and suppression of tumor growth.


This research provides compelling evidence that beta-glucan from Shiitake mushrooms has a significant anti-tumor effect. By inducing apoptosis, inhibiting cell proliferation, and activating the immune response, LNT emerges as a promising agent in the fight against cancer.

For Further Reading:

To delve deeper into this groundbreaking study, readers can access the full article here.