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Advances in research on the active constituents and physiological effects of Ganoderma lucidum
Jan 19, 2021

Article Details

Author(s): Yunli Yang, Huina Zhang, Jinhui Zuo, Xiaoyan Gong, Fan Yi, Wanshan Zhu & Li Li

Research Journal: Biomedical Dermatology, Volume 3, Article number: 6

Year of Publication: 2019

Article Link:

What is this research article about?

The researchers who wrote this article performed an extensive review of existing scientific findings involving bioactive compounds in Ganoderma Lucidum and the physiological effects of these compounds.

What are the main research findings?

Bioactive compounds in Ganoderma Lucidum

Scientific studies have shown that Ganoderma Lucidum contains many bioactive compounds including:

  • Triterpenoids (> 200 types)
  • Polysaccharides
  • Steroids (>20 sterols)
  • Proteins and polypeptides
  • Amino acids
  • Nucleosides
  • Enzymes
  • Alkaloids

Of all these bioactive compounds, the triterpenoids and polysaccharides have garnered the most attention because of their high concentration in the fungus, as well as their significant bioactivities.

Physiological activities of Ganoderma Lucidum

  • Anticancer effects
  • Hepatoprotection ("Hepato" refers to the liver)
  • Hypoglycaemic (Lowers blood sugar)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-melanogenesis effects (Prevents abnormal melanin generation which causes skin pigmentation)
  • Antioxidant and anti-aging activity
  • Skin barrier-repairing activity – can be used to promote wound healing

Research Article Abstract

Ganoderma lucidum, a double-walled basidiospore produced by porous basidiomycete fungi, has been used as a traditional medicine for thousands of years. It is considered a valuable Chinese medicine for strengthening body resistance, invigorating the spleen, and replenishing Qi. G. lucidum contains a variety of active ingredients, such as polysaccharides, triterpenoids, nucleosides, sterols, alkaloids, polypeptides, fatty acids, steroids, and inorganic elements, and has anticancer, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotection, hypoglycemic, anti-melanogenesis, anti-aging, and skin barrier-repairing activity.

The review summarizes the traditional usages, distribution, active constituents, structure, and biological effects of G. lucidum, with an aim to offer directions for further research and better usage of G. lucidum as a medicinal raw material.

Useful Article Excerpts

Ganoderma lucidum is an annual or perennial fungus of the family Ganodermataceae ( Campos Ziegenbein et al. 2006); it is commonly known as “Ling Zhi” in China. In the wild, G. lucidum mainly grows in subtropical and temperate climate regions such as Asia, Europe, Africa, and Americas (Siwulski et al. 2015). G. lucidum has a kidney-shaped cap and its upper surface is russet, with a cloud-like, ring pattern, glossy exterior, and woody texture.
G. lucidum has a systematic theoretical background in traditional Chinese medicine, and research has now confirmed that it contains over 400 bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides, triterpenoids, steroids, fatty acids, amino acids, nucleosides, proteins, and alkaloids (Cör et al. 2018). Polysaccharides and triterpenoids are the major bioactive compounds in G. lucidum. The active ingredients and relative pharmacological activities differ during the different growth stages of G. lucidum. Modern pharmacology has shown that G. lucidum has antitumor (Kao et al. 2016), anti-inflammatory (Liu et al. 2018), and antioxidation effects (Sarnthima et al. 2017) and that it could regulate the respiratory, nervous, and immune systems (Kubota et al. 2018). G. lucidum also has a hypoglycemic effect (Tian et al. 2018) and can protect the liver (Wu et al. 2016). G. lucidum plays a role in inhibiting tyrosinase activity and tyrosine-related protein expression, and thus, it may ameliorate pigmentation effect (Zhang et al. 2011). It can also anti-aging by inhibiting ultraviolet B (UVB)-induced matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 expression and increasing procollagen expression (Lee et al. 2018). G. lucidum also has a marked ability to scavenge free radicals in vivo.
In China, G. lucidum grows in the regions around Yangtze and Yellow rivers (Chen and Li 2004). It originated from the Dabie Mountains, which recorded in Compendium of Materia Medica.
Owing to the varying quality of G. lucidum in the wild and the increasing demand for it in the food service, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and health product industries, cultivation has become a major source of the mushroom. Different active substances have been extracted from the fruiting bodies, mycelia, and spores of G. lucidum. The fruiting bodies of G. lucidum have been commonly cultivated on hardwood logs, stumps, and sawdust (Cilerdzic et al. 2018). Artificial cultivation of G. lucidum takes a long time, and its quality is susceptible to environmental conditions.
According to the colors of the fruiting bodies, G. lucidum can be classified into red, black, blue, white, yellow, and purple Reishi, and red Reishi (G. lucidum) has shown the most significant health-enhancing effects (Cör et al. 2018). G. lucidum has been extensively used as a traditional medicine to promote health and longevity in China. In traditional Chinese medicine, G. lucidum is regarded as a valuable for strengthening body resistance, invigorating the spleen, and replenishing Qi. G. lucidum was first recognized more than 2400 years ago in Shen Nong’s Materia Medica, and the book records that G. lucidum can improve eyesight, nourish liver qi, improve vital essence, and strengthen bones and muscles. Further, in Compendium of Materia Medica, G. lucidum has been recorded as being able to preserve the spirit and longevity. Modern studies have shown that G. lucidum polysaccharides (GLPs) and Ganoderma triterpenoids (GTs) which improve immunity and exert anti-aging effects are the main contributors to the traditional pharmacological activities of G. lucidum. G. lucidum has been included in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia and in the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Therapeutic Compendium (Hapuarachchi et al. 2018).
Figure 2 . Skeletal types of Ganoderma triterpenoids in G. lucidum


Table 1 Ganoderma triterpenoids in G. lucidum


Table 2.1 Ganoderma triterpenoids in G. lucidum


Table 2.2 Ganoderma triterpenoids in G. lucidum


Table 2.3 Ganoderma triterpenoids in G. lucidum






Table 7 Ganoderma triterpenoids in G. lucidum


Table 8.1 Steroids in G. lucidum


Table 8.2 Steroids in G. lucidum


Proteins and polypeptides
Several bioactive proteins from G. lucidum have been reported. Ling Zhi-8 (LZ-8) is a polypeptide consisting of 110 amino acid residues with an acetylated amino terminus (Lin et al. 2011). The sequence and predicted secondary structure of LZ-8 is very similar to the variable region of the heavy chain of immunoglobulins. LZ-8 was the first immunomodulatory protein obtained from the mycelial extract of G. lucidum by using chromato-graphic and electrophoretic techniques (Ahmad 2018).
β-N-Acetylhexosaminidase, α-1,2-mannosidase, endo-β-1,3-glucanase, β-1,3-glucanase, and glutamic protease were extracted from G. lucidum, and glutamic protease is the major protein in the extracts of G. lucidum (Kumakura et al. 2019).
G. lucidum also contains nucleosides such as adenosine, cystidine, guanosine, inosine, thymidine, and uridine as well as nucleotides, including adenine, guanine, hypoxanthine, thymine, and uracil (Gao et al. 2007).
Amino acids
Eighteen kinds of amino acids have been found in G. lucidum, and the most abundant amino acid was leucine, which possessed strong hypoglycemic and antioxidant activities (Zhang et al. 2018a, 2018b).
Vitamins and minerals
Several vitamins have been reported from G. lucidum, such as vitamins B1, B2, B6, β-carotene, C, D, and E. Moreover, various minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, carbon, magnesium, zinc, chromium, arsenic, copper, manganese, silicon, aluminum, cobalt, molybdenum, nickel, and lead have been identified in G. lucidum (Ahmad 2018)."

G. lucidum is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for centuries as a nutritional supplement and herbal medication. This review summarizes the active substances of G. lucidum. Polysaccharides and triterpenoids are the major secondary metabolites of G. lucidum. The polysaccharides mostly comprise α- or β-(1→3)-, (1→6)-glucans and hetero-polysaccharides. More than 200 kinds of GTs have been isolated from G. lucidum. GTs can effectively inhibit the proliferation and metastasis of cancer cells. Ganoderic acids are the prominent bioactive constituents of GTs. Ganoderic acid A, ganoderic acid F, ganoderic acid H, ganoderic acid C, ganoderic acid D, ganoderic acid T, ganoderic acid X, and ganoderic acid Y can be used as adjuvant drugs to suppress cancer. Therefore, the application of GTs in the pharmaceutical industry is very important.

In addition, the secondary metabolites isolated from G. lucidum can be used in functional foods or medicines for properties such as anti-aging, decreased surface pigmentation, and skin barrier-enhancing effects. GTs, especially methyl aspartate and Ganoderma mannitol, have skin-whitening effects. Crude proteins obtained from the mycelia and fruiting bodies of G. lucidum show antioxidant effects. GLPs can inhibit the expression of MMP-1, increase procollagen expression, and scavenge free radicals and reactive oxygen species, which can delay aging. The human internal environment is interacted by many kinds of cells through various forms. Although the pharmacological effects of G. lucidum have been confirmed at the level of monolayer cells, monolayer cells can not simulate the multicellular environment in vivo, so the effect of G. lucidum on multicellular interconnection can not be explored. We can use cell co-culture to study the relationship between different cells in order to verify the pharmacological effect of G. lucidum.

In recent years, with the development of microbial technology, it has a good prospect to obtain GTs through microbial fermentation technology. G. lucidum has become a popular nutraceutical worldwide; it has great cosmeceutical potential. G. lucidum, as a good medicinal and food homologous medicinal material, has received more and more attention in the food health care and cosmetics industry, and its application in food health products and cosmetics has potential for further exploration.


This work was supported by China Cosmetic Collaborative Innovation Center, the Open Research Fund Program of Beijing Key Lab of Plant Resource Research and Development, BTBU(PRRD-2017-ZD1).


This work was supported by China Cosmetic Collaborative Innovation Center, the Open Research Fund Program of Beijing Key Lab of Plant Resource Research and Development, BTBU(PRRD-2017-ZD1).


Beijing Key Laboratory of Plant Resources Research and Development, Beijing Technology and Business University, Beijing, 100048, China

Yunli Yang, Huina Zhang, Jinhui Zuo, Xiaoyan Gong, Fan Yi & Li Li

Department of Industrial Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, China

Wanshan Zhu


LL and FY designed and finalized the scheme; YLY performed the review work and wrote the paper; JHZ drawn some structural formulas; WSZ, XYG, and HNZ contributed to the manuscript writing. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Yang, Y., Zhang, H., Zuo, J. et al. Advances in research on the active constituents and physiological effects of Ganoderma lucidumbiomed dermatol 3, 6 (2019).