Ganoderma mushrooms, used in traditional Chinese medicine to promote health and longevity, have become widely accepted as herbal supplements. Ganoderma lucidum (GL), a commonly seen ganoderma species, is commercially cultivated under controlled conditions for more consistent chemical composition. The medicinal properties of GL are attributable to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. We intended to assess the effect of GL in atherosclerosis, an arterial condition associated with chronic oxidative stress and inflammation, using a carotid-artery-ligation mouse model. Flow turbulence created in the ligated artery induces oxidative stress and neointimal hyperplasia, a feature of early atherogenesis. Daily oral GL prevented neointimal thickening 2 weeks after ligation. Moreover, the ganoderma triterpenoid (GT) crude extract isolated from GL abolished ligation-induced neointima formation. Mechanistically, endothelial dysfunction was observed 3 days after ligation before any structural changes could be detected. GTs alleviated the oxidative stress and restored the atheroresistent status of endothelium by inhibiting the induction of a series of atherogenic factors, including endothelin-1, von Willebrand factor, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 after 3-day ligation. The anti-inflammatory activity of GTs was tested in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) exposed to disturbed flow in an in vitro perfusion system. GTs abolished the induction of proinflammatory VCAM-1, TNF-α, and IL-6 by oscillatory shear stress. Moreover, the antioxidant activity of GTs was tested in HUVECs against the insult of H2O2. GTs dissipated the cellular superoxide accumulation imposed by H2O2, thereby mitigating H2O2-induced cell damage and proatherogenic response. Our results revealed the atheroprotective properties of ganoderma mushrooms and identified triterpenoids as the critical constituents for those effects. GTs prevent atherogenesis by eliminating disturbed flow-induced oxidative stress and inflammation.
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