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Antrodia camphorata (Antrodia cinnamomea)

(from Medicinal Mushrooms - A Clinical Guide by Martin Powell)

Taiwanese name - Niu Chang Chih

This native Taiwanese mushroom is starting to attract interest because of the exceptionally high concentration of its triterpenoid compounds and their structural diversity. Other important bioactive compounds include polysaccharides, maleic/succinic acid derivatives, benzenoids and benzoquinone derivatives 1.

In the wild A. camphorata grows solely on the tree Cinnamomum kanehirai, a species of cinnamon that grows at altitudes of between 450 and 2,000m in the mountains of Taiwan. As the fruiting body only develops fully once the tree is dead, in the past many trees were felled to supply demand for this unique and extremely lucrative mushroom (wild A. camphorata fetches up to US$15,000/kg) and this, coupled with the fact that C. kanehirai itself is highly sought for furniture manufacture, has severely depleted numbers of C. kanehirai, with the result that it is now protected by the Taiwanese government2.

To replace the wild-collected material, commercial cultivation of A. camphorata has been developed using a variety of techniques to produce either cultivated fruiting body, pure mycelium (grown by submerged cultivation), or mycelial biomass (mycelium and residual substrate). Levels of triterpenes are highest in the fruiting body products, which are also the most expensive, and lowest in the biomass products, with submerged cultivation mycelial products offering a cost effective intermediate option.

A. camphorata has a wide range of traditional indications, including: alcohol intoxication, cancer, hypertension, fatigue, viral infection and liver disease.

Hepatoprotective - The use of A. camphorata by Taiwanese natives to counter the adverse effects of excessive alcohol consumption was first reported by a traditional Chinese medicine doctor, Wu-Sha in 1773. In animal experiments both the fruit body and mycelium have been shown to protect against alcohol-induced hepatitis and liver steatosis (fatty liver), as well as CCl4 and cytokine induced liver damage, ameliorating increases in AST, ALT and ALP levels and histopathological changes in a dose dependent manner with no observed lesions2,3.

A. camphorata fruiting bodies also inhibited alcohol-induced rises in cholesterol and hepatic lipids in rats with moderate effect at a dose of 0.025g/kg and increased efficacy at a dose of 01.g/kg 4.

Separately it has been shown that A. camphorata has strong anti-oxidant activity and it is likely that this is a major contributor to its hepatoprotective properties5,6. Its antioxidant properties are correlated with the presence of total polyphenols, crude triterpenoids and the protein/polysaccharide ratio of the crude polysaccharide7.

A. camphorata polysaccharides also show hepatoprotective properties8 and anti-hepatitis B activity9, while a number of maleic/succinic acid derivatives showed potent inhibitory activity against hepatitis C virus protease through competitive inhibition10.

A. camphorata has also been shown to suppress the invasive potential of liver cancer cells through inhibition of NF-kappaB11 and to induce apoptosis in human hepatoma cells12,13.

Cancer - In addition to its effects on liver cancer, multiple in vitro and in vivo studies show inhibition of cancer cell growth and migration and increase in apoptosis in various cancer cell lines including breast, prostate, liver, bladder and oral carcinoma1,14-16.

Asthma - The immune modulating and anti-inflammatory actions of A. camphorata offer potential in asthma treatment with animal experiments showing that A. camphorata polysaccharides dose-dependently inhibited the development of airway hyperresponsiveness, airway eosinophilia and Th2 immune status17.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) - A mycelial extract of A. camphorata reduced urine protein and creatinine levels and suppressed the thickening of the kidney glomerular basement membrane at a dose of 400mg/kg in a mouse model of SLE, suggesting ability to protect the kidney from immunological damage resulting from autoimmune disease18.

Cardiovascular Disease - A. camphorata has traditionally been used to treat heart conditions, including hypertension and atherosclerosis and A. camphorata extracts have been reported to inhibit thickening of blood vessel walls and to promote vasodilation19,20.


Main Therapeutic Application - Liver Disease

Key Component - Triterpenes, Polysaccharides

Dose - While the more expensive fruiting body contains the highest level of triterpenes and is preferred in Taiwan for cancer treatment, mycelium produced by liquid fermentation is increasingly available and has been shown to offer a cost effective alternative for treatment of liver conditions with a recomended dose of 1-3g/day.

Caution - Patients on anti-coagulant medication.

1. Review of pharmacological effects of Antrodia camphorata and its bioactive compounds. Geethangili M, Tzeng Y.M. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009. 

2. Niuchangchih (Antrodia camphorata) and its potential in treating liver diseases. Ao Z.H, Xu Z.H, Lu Z.M, Xu H.Y, Zhang X.M, Dou W.F. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009;121(2):194-212.

3. Further studies on the hepatoprotective effect of Antrodia camphorata in submerged culture on ethanol-induced acute liver injury in rats. Lu ZM, Tao WY, Xu HY, Ao ZH, Zhang XM, Xu ZH. Nat Prod Res. 2010 Jul 9:1-12.

4. Fruiting body of Niuchangchih (Antrodia camphorata) protects livers against chronic alcohol consumption damage. Huang C.H, Chang Y.Y, Liu C.W, Kang W.Y, Lin Y.L, Chang H.C, Chen Y.C. J Agric Food Chem. 2010;58(6):3859-66.

5. Antioxidative and hepatoprotective effects of Antrodia camphorata extract. Hsiao G, Shen M.Y, Lin K.H, Lan M.H, Wu L.Y, Chou D.S, Lin C.H, Su C.H, Sheu J.R. J Agric Food Chem. 2003;51(11):3302-8.

6. Protection of oxidative damage by aqueous extract from Antrodia camphorate mycelia in normal human erythrocytes. Hseu Y.C, et al. Life Sci.2002;71(4):469-482.

7. Antioxidant properties of Antrodia camphorata in submerged culture. Song T.Y, Yen G.C. J Agric Food Chem. 2002;50(11):3322-7.

8. Protective effects of a neutral polysaccharide isolated from the mycelium of Antrodia cinnamomea on Propionibacterium acnes and lipopolysaccharide induced hepatic injury in mice. Han H.F, Nakamura N, Zuo F, Hirakawa A, Yokozawa T, Hattori M. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2006;54(4):496-500.

9. Antrodia camporata polysaccharides exhibit anti-hepatitus B virus effects. Lee, I.H, Huang R.L, Chen C.T, Chen H.C, Hsu W.C & Lu M.K. FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 2002;209(1):63-67.

10. Inhibitory effects of antrodins A-E from Antrodia cinnamomea and their metabolites on hepatitis C virus protease. Phuong do T, Ma C.M, Hattori M, Jin J.S. Phytother Res. 2009;23(4):582-4.

11. Antrodia cinnamomea fruiting bodies extract suppresses the invasive potential of human liver cancer cell line PLC/PRF/5 through inhibition of nuclear factor kappaB pathway. Hsu Y.L, Kuo P.L, Cho C.Y, Ni W.C, Tzeng F, Ng L.T, Kuo Y.H, Lin C.C. Food Chem Toxicol. 2007;45(7):1249-57.

12. Induction of apoptosis in human hepatoma cells by mycelia of Antrodia camphorata in submerged culture. Song T.Y, Hsu S.L, Yen G.C. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;100(1-2):158-67.

13. Mycelia from Antrodia camphorata in submerged culture induce apoptosis of human hepatoma HepG2 cells possibly through regulation of Fas pathway.Song T.Y, Hsu S.L, Yeh C.T, Yen G.C. J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53(14):5559-64.

14. Antrodia camphorata extract induces replicative senescence in superficial TCC, and inhibits the absolute migration capability in invasive bladder carcinoma cells. Peng C.C, Chen K.C, Peng R.Y, Chyau C.C, Su C.H, Hsieh-Li H.M. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;109(1):93-103

15. Inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 and induction of apoptosis in estrogen-nonresponsive breast cancer cells by Antrodia camphorata. Hseu Y.C, et al. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2006;45:1107-1115.
16. Unique Formosan mushroom Antrodia camphorata differentially inhibits androgen-responsive LNCaP and independent PC-3 prostate cancer cell. Chen, Kuan-Chou et al.
Nutrition and Cancer 2007;57(1):111-121.

17. Administration of polysaccharides from Antrodia camphorata modulates dendritic cell function and alleviates allergen-induced T helper type 2 responses in a mouse model of asthma. Liu K.J, Leu S.J, Su C.H, Chiang B.L, Chen Y.L, Lee Y.L. Immunology. 2010;129(3):351-62.

18. An extract of Antrodia camphorata mycelia attenuates the progression of nephritis in systemic lupus Erythematosus-prone NZB/W F1 mice. Chang J.M, Lee Y.R, Hung L.M, Liu S.Y, Kuo M.T, Wen W.C, Chen P.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008 Sep 2. Epub

19. A novel inhibitory effect of Antrodia camphorata extract on vascular smooth muscle cell migration and neointima formation in mice. Li Y.H, Chung H.C, Liu S.L, Chao T.H, Chen J.C. Int Heart J. 2009;50(2):207-20.
20. The vasorelaxation of Antrodia camphorata mycelia: involvement of endothelial Ca(2+)-NO-cGMP pathway. Wang G.J, Tseng H.W, Chou C.J, Tsai T.H, Chen C.T, Lu M.K. Life Sci. 2003;73(21):2769-83.