Both Ganoderma lucidum (GL) and G. sinense (GS) are used as Lingzhi in China. Their functions are assumed to mainly derive from triterpenes and polysaccharides; however, the two species have very different triterpenes profiles, if this was the case, then the bioactivity of these two species should differ. Instead, could the polysaccharides be similar, contributing to the shared therapeutic basis? In this study, two main polysaccharide fractions from different batches of GL and GS were systematically compared by a series of chemical and biological experiments. The results showed that the polysaccharides from two species shared the same structural features in terms of mono-/oligo-saccharide profiles, molecular size, sugar linkages, and IR/NMR spectra. In addition, these polysaccharides showed similar tumor-suppressive activity in mice. Further study on RAW264.7 cells indicated that these polysaccharides exhibited similar inducing effects to macrophages, as evaluated in the phagocytosis function, NO/cytokines production, inhibition against the viability and migration of cancer cells. Mechanistic investigation revealed the identical activation via TLR-4 related MAPK/NF-κB signaling pathway and gut-microbiota modulatory effects. In summary, GL and GS polysaccharides presented similar chemical features, antitumor/immunomodulating activities and mechanism; this establishes polysaccharides as the active principles and supports the official use of both species as Lingzhi.
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