The nucleoside derivatives found in Cordyceps sinensis, including cordycepin (3’-deoxyadenosine), are reverse transcriptase inhibitors of the type now being used to treat HIV and in vitro studies confirm them to be effective in inhibiting HIV replication1-3. The proteoglycans PSK and PSP from C. versicolor have also been shown to be capable of inhibiting both HIV-1 reverse transcriptase and protease, two key enzymes in the life cycle of HIV4-6, as have triterpenes from Ganoderma lucidum, which also inhibit NF-kappaB expression and viral binding7,8. In addition there is in-vitro evidence that betulinic acid analogs (present in I. obliquus) disrupt HIV fusion to the cell membrane in a post-binding step through interaction with the viral glycoprotein gp41 as well as disrupting assembly and budding of the HIV-1 virus9,10.

Coriolus biomass supplementation (3g/day) given as part of traditional Chinese medicine treatment for patients with HIV produced improvements in CD4 count and reductions in viral load as well as fading of the Kaposi’s sarcoma (caused by human herpes virus 8) in AIDS patients11,12.

1. Emerging antiviral drugs from medicinal mushrooms. Pirano F.F. Int J Med Mushr. 2006;8(2):20
2. Phosphorothioate and cordycepin analogues of 2’, 5’- oligoadenylate: Inhibition of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase and infection in vitro. We Robinson Jr et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1989;86:7191-7194
3. Synthesis, characterization, and biological activity of monomeric and trimeric cordycepin-cholesterol conjugates and inhibition of HIV-1 replication. Wasner M, Henderson E.E, Suhadolnik R.J, Pfleiderer W. Helvetica Chimica Acta. 1994;77:1757-1761.
4. Polysaccharopeptide from the Turkey tail fungus Trametes versicolor (L.:Fr.) Pilát inhibits human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse Transciptase and Protease. Ng T.B, Wang H.X, Wan D.C.C. Int J Med Mushr. 2006;8(1):40
5. Polysaccharopeptide from Coriolus versicolor has potential for use against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection. Collins R.A, Ng T.B. Life Sci. 1997;60(25):PL383- 7.
6. A biological response modifier, PSK, inhibits reverse transcriptase in vitro. Hirose K, Hakozaki M, Kakuchi J, Matsunaga K, Yoshikumi C, Takahashi M, Tochikura T.S, Yamamoto N. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1987;149(2):562-7.
7. Anti-HIV-1 and anti-HIV-1-protease substances from Ganoderma lucidum. el-Mekkawy S, Meselhy M.R, Nakamura N, Tezuka Y, Hattori M, Kakiuchi N, Shimotohno K, Kawahata T, Otake T. Phytochemistry. 1998;49(6):1651- 7.
8. Triterpenes from the spores of Ganoderma lucidum and their inhibitory activity against HIV-1 protease. Min B.S, Nakamura N, Miyashiro H, Bae K.W, Hattori M. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1998;46(10):1607-12.
9. Chemistry, biological activity, and chemotherapeutic potential of betulinic acid for the prevention and treatment of cancer and HIV infection. Cichewicz R.H, Kouzi S.A. Med Res Rev. 2004;24(1):90-114.
10. Betulinic acid derivatives as human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2) inhibitors. Dang Z, Lai W, Qian K, Ho P, Lee K.H, Chen C.H, Huang L. J Med Chem. 2009;52(23):7887- 91.
11. The effectiveness of Coriolus versicolor supplementation in the treatment of Kaposi sarcoma in HIV+Patients. Tindall J, Clegg E. Presented at the 10th International Congress of Mucosal Immunology in Amsterdam, June 28th – July 1st, 1999.
12. The clinical use of Coriolus versicolor supplementation in HIV+ patients and the impact on CD4 count and viral load. Pfeiffer M. Presented at the III International Symposium on Mushroom Nutrition in Milan on Saturday, March 10th, 2001.

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