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Mushroom Combination Shown to Reduce Pathological Changes Associated with Parkinson’s Disease

by William Ahern(more info)

listed in neurological and neurodegenerative, originally published in issue 284 - February 2023

Two mushroom species – Hericium erinaceus and Coriolus versicolor – have been widely studied individually and in combination to assess their effects in ameliorating the pathological processes of neurodegenerative diseases. They have variously been shown in animal studies to improve multiple markers of neuroinflammation, enhance antioxidant activity within the brain, reduce pathological indicators of disease, and effect improvement in measures of memory and cognitive function.

Clinical studies with H. erinaceus biomass in Japan show improved symptom scores in mild cognitive impairment[1],  while a recent clinical study in Italy has indicated that C. versicolor biomass has been shown to improve symptoms scores in Meniere´s disease.[2]

Brain Immage

Brain Image


Research by an Italian–US group has recently found further preclinical evidence suggesting that a combination of both mushrooms has potential as a disease-modifying therapy for neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, a widespread, disabling condition for which a curative treatment remains elusive.[3,4] Importantly, and specifically, this mushroom combination is shown to reduce the expression of α‑synuclein, increase lipoxin A4, and raise levels of redox proteins Nrf2 and HO-1.

In their most recent study,[4] the researchers fed mice with rotenone (5 mg/kg orally to induce brain changes reflecting Parkinson’s disease) plus either saline (control: n=15) or a solution containing both mushrooms (200 mg/kg orally; test: n=15) over 28 days. They then conducted a series of behavioural tests and evaluated brain changes. Control mice showed brain biochemical alterations and histological abnormalities, together with altered behaviour and motor activity, consistent with the rotenone-induced Parkinson’s disease model. Ingestion of the combined mushroom solution by the test mice ameliorated these effects, as summarised below.

  • Protective response to oxidative stress: Mushroom treatment raised the levels of redox proteins Nrf2 and HO-1, and heat shock protein Hsp-70, that were produced in response to rotenone administration. This indicates a heightened response to oxidative stress;
  • Inflammatory response: Mushroom treatment induced a significant increase in lipoxin A4, a potent anti-inflammatory mediator;
  • Glial cell activation: Mushroom treatment reduced the rotenone-induced elevated expression of GFAP and Iba-1 – markers of glial cell activation. This suggests a suppression of inflammation;
  • Inflammatory markers: Mushroom treatment preserved IkB-α activity (an inhibitor of NF-Kb transcription), and attenuated the rotenone-induced rise in pro-inflammatory markers NF-Kb, IL-1β and TNF-α;
  • Apoptosis of dopaminergic neurons: Mushroom treatment attenuated the rise in Bax (a mediator of apoptosis), and restored Bcl-2 (a suppressor of apoptosis) expression to baseline levels;

Read the Original Article

These results show that, in combination, H. erinaceus and C. versicolor, have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease, and reduce apoptosis of dopaminergic neurons. These combined effects are thought to be responsible for reducing the development of motor and non-motor dysfunction. The researchers suggest that this combination of mushrooms might be useful in preventing or reducing many of the neurodegenerative processes associated with Parkinson’s disease.

  • Markers of Parkinson’s disease: Mushroom treatment:
    • inhibited the loss of TH-positive neurons (dopaminergic neurons)
    • restored DAT (dopamine transporter) levels
    • reduced expression of α‑synuclein (thought to contribute to Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis)
    • reduced cytoplasmic vacuolisation and cell loss
  • Motor activity: Mushroom treatment effected some restoration of motor activity, shortened duration of catalepsy, and reduced immobility time.
  • Behaviour: Treated mice showed less anxious behaviour in an elevated plus maze test.


Figure 1. Effects of Mushroom Treatment in Mouse Model

Figure 1. Effects of Mushroom Treatment in Mouse Model


This research adds to the growing weight of evidence suggesting that H. erinaceus and C. versicolor are effective in interrupting the pathology of important neurological conditions. Further studies are needed to clarify specifically the mechanisms involved, and to investigate how these findings in animals might be extrapolated to humans.

Further Information

The Hericium erinaceus and Coriolus versicolor biomass used in the study was supplied by Mycology Research Laboratories Ltd. (Luton, United Kingdom).


  1. Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida T. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res 2009;23:367–372. Doi: 10.1002/ptr.2634
  2. Scuto M, Di Mauro P, Ontario ML, Amato C, Moda S, Ciavardelli D, Trovato Salinaro A, Maiolino L, Calabrese V. Nutritional mushroom treatment in Meniere’s disease with Coriolus versicolor: A rationale for therapeutic intervention in neuroinflammation and antineurodegeneration. Int J Mol Sci 2020;21:284. Doi: 10.3390/ijms21010284
  3. D’Amico R, Trovato Salinaro A, Fusco R, Cordaro M, ImpellizzeriD, Scuto M, Ontario ML, Lo Dico G, Cuzzocrea S,  Di Paola R, Siracusa R, Calabrese V. Hericium erinaceus and Coriolus versicolor modulate molecular and biochemical changes after traumatic brain injury. Antioxidants 2021;10:898. Doi: 10.3390/antiox10060898
  4. Cordaro M, Modafferi S, D’Amico R, Fusco R, Genovese T, Peritore AF, Gugliandolo E, Crupi R, Interdonato L, Di Paola D, Impellizzeri D, Cuzzocrea S, Calabrese V, Di Paola R, Siracusa R. Natural compounds such as Hericium erinaceus and Coriolus versicolor modulate neuroinflammation, oxidative stress and lipoxin A4 expression in rotenone-induced Parkinson’s disease in mice. Biomedicines 2022;10:2505. Doi: 10.3390/biomedicines10102505

Further Education

Practitioners are encouraged to learn additional information on the use of mushroom nutrition by participating in the one or more of the following webinars or register as a practitioner on the MRL website


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About William Ahern

William Ahern has a background in pharmaceutical licensing, and has focused on the development and introduction of cost-effective and innovative healthcare techniques and products. An earlier investor in Balance Healthcare (formerly East West Herbs), Mr Ahern founded Mycology Research Laboratories Ltd ( as well as founding Aneid Lda. in  Italy, Spain and Portugal. He may be contacted via  


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