Ganoderma mushrooms (Lingzhi in Chinese) have well-documented health benefits. Ganoderma tsugae (G. tsugae), one of the ganoderma species, has been commercially cultivated as a dietary supplement. Because G. tsugae has high antioxidant activity and because oxidative stress is often associated with cardiac injury, we hypothesized that G. tsugae protects against cardiac injury by alleviating oxidative stress. We tested the hypothesis using a work-overload-induced myocardial injury model created by challenging mice with isoproterenol (ISO). Remarkably, oral G. tsugae protected the mice from ISO-induced myocardial injury. Moreover, the triterpenoid fraction of G. tsugae, composed of a mixture of nine structurally related ganoderic acids (GAs), provided cardioprotection by inhibiting the ISO-induced expression of Fas/Fas ligand, oxidative stress, and apoptosis. The antioxidant activity of GAs was tested in cultured cardio-myoblast H9c2 cells against the insult of H2O2. GAs dissipated the cellular reactive oxygen species imposed by H2O2 and prevented cell death. Our findings uncovered the cardioprotective activity of G. tsugae and identified GAs as the bioactive components against cardiac insults.
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