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Enhancing Immune Function With Maitake Fruiting Body Extract

Maitake Extract Maitake Extract
Quantum University


The medicinal mushroom extracts have continued to grow in popularity as a segment of the dietary supplement market. In fact, the global medicinal mushroom extract market size is projected to reach $261.8 million (U.S.) by 2026, from $198.7 million (U.S.) in 2021, at a coumpound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7 percent during 2021-2026.1 Of course the popularity of medicinal mushrooms is not a new thing. For more than 2,000 years mushrooms have been used as medicines. In September of 1991 a 5,300-year-old mummy was found in the Tyrolean Alps, and his medicine kit contained Piptoporus betulinus, a mushroom that may have been used as a natural worm-killer and laxative.2

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While there are a variety of safe and effective medicinal mushrooms commonly used for promoting immune function, this article will examine the mushroom Grifola frondosa, commonly known as maitake—with a focus on a specific maitake extract known as Maitake Pt78 (Unibar Corp). Let’s start with an overview of maitake’s background, research and safety before moving onto Maitake Pt78.


Famous for its taste and health benefits, maitake is also known as the “dancing mushroom,” since legend holds that those who found it began dancing with joy.3 Historically, maitake has been used as a tonic and adaptogen (a substance that invigorates/strengthens the system and helps it adapt to stress). Maitake is commonly used to help promote wellness and vitality.

In-vitro and Animal Research

Maitake contains a group of complex polysac-charides. These polysaccharides, which act as immunomodulators, have a unique structure and are among the most powerful studied in-vitro.4 One polysaccharide, beta-D-glucan, is well absorbed when taken orally and has been studied as a potential tool for prevention and treatment of cancer and as an adjunctive treatment for HIV infection.5,6 In addition, animal studies suggest maitake may lower serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.7,8 Another intriguing area of research is that Japanese scientists conducted an in-vitro experiment to see what effect maitake had on the C3H10T1/2B2C1 cell. This cell is normal in most aspects, but it has the potential to balloon and turn into an adipocyte, a fat cell. The results of the experiment showed that maitake inhibits the conversion of normal C3H10T1/2B2C1 cells into adipocytes.9

Human Research

In case studies, maitake mushroom polysaccharides (1-1.5 grams daily) lowered blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes.10 Other research in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) demonstrated that a combination product containing maitake mushroom powder (750 mg plus maitake SX-fraction [a glycoprotein-rich extract] 54 mg three times daily) improved ovulation rates in women with amenorrhea (lack of menstruation) due to PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).11 Additional research in 32 overweight subjects found that supplementation with 10 grams of maitake powder for two months resulted in an average weight loss of 12 pounds—without a change in their diets.12


Current data13 indicate that, orally, maitake mushroom is generally well tolerated, and research going back two decades also shows that there have been no reports of contraindications or adverse effects with maitake.14 Currently, there are no well-known, demonstrated drug interactions with maitake.15,16 The American Herbal Product Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook does not suggest any restrictions on the use of maitake during pregnancy.17

Maitake Pt78 Overview

Maitake Pt78 is a maitake fruiting body mushroom extract with a high concentration of 1,3-1,6 beta-glucans. Besides the fact that it has good human clinical research to support its use, another key advantage of this particular extract is that it is effective at very low doses: 7.5 mg twice daily, or 15 mg once daily. Following is a review of human clinical research on this mushroom extract.

Maitake Study 1

A phase I/II dose escalation trial18 was conducted at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York with 34 postmenopausal breast cancer patients who were free of disease after initial treatment. They were enrolled into five groups to determine whether oral administration of a polysaccharide extract from maitake produces measurable immunologic effects. Maitake extract was taken orally at 0.2, 0.5, 1.5, 3 or 5 mg/kg twice daily for three weeks. At the lowest dose, this translates to 15 mg/day for a 165 lb person. Results were no dose-limiting toxicity was encountered. There was a statistically significant association between maitake and immunologic function (p < 0.0005). In conclusion, oral administration of a polysaccharide extract from maitake mushroom is associated with immunologically stimulatory effects in peripheral blood.

Maitake Study 2

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are characterized by ineffective production of red blood cells with abnormal bone marrow leading to peripheral reduction in the number of mature red blood cells, risk of infection and progression to acute myelogenous leukemia. This phase II trial19 examined the effects of maitake on innate immune function in 18 MDS patients who received oral maitake extract at 3 mg/kg twice daily for 12 weeks. Results were that maitake increased endogenous (basal) neutrophil (p = 0.005) and monocyte function (p = 0.021). Pre-treatment monocyte response to harmful bacteria was reduced in MDS patients (p = 0.002). In conclusion, maitake was well tolerated and has beneficial immunomodulatory potential in MDS.

Maitake Study 3

The role of glucan in stimulation of immune reactions has been studied for several decades. In this report,20 researchers focused on the effects of orally administered glucan maitake and shiitake mushroom on immune reactions. Measurements were taken for phagocytosis, NK cell activity and secretion of IL-6, IL-12, IFN-γ as well as C-reactive protein (CRP) after 14 days of oral application of tested glucans. For comparison, active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) was used in all reactions. Results showed significant stimulation of defense reaction. In all cases, the most active was the maitake-shiitake combination, with maitake alone being the second strongest, followed by shiitake on its own and AHCC. In conclusion, short-term oral application of natural immunomodulating glucans from maitake and shiitake mushrooms strongly stimulated both the cellular and humoral branch of immune reactions. These activities were significantly higher than those of AHCC.

Maitake Study 4

Beta-glucans have been extensively studied for their immunological and pharmacological effects. In this study,21 researchers compared the immune-stimulating properties of two different glucans from maitake mushrooms with lentinan, a standard, well-researched mushroom-derived glucan. A number of major immunological parameters were tested—phagocytosis, NK cell activity, expression of surface markers, cytokine secretion and apoptosis. The study showed that not only have these glucans significantly increased all tested characteristics, but they also have similar, and in some tests even higher, activity than lentinan, are active at lower doses and can be administered orally with no loss of activity. Therefore, this report represents evidence that maitake-derived supplements taken orally can stimulate the defense systems.


The market for immune support nutraceuticals has grown considerably over the past year, and the growth of the medicinal mushroom market has been part of it. Certainly, mushrooms have had a long history of safe and effective use, and maitake mushroom has been well studied. Maitake has particularly good studies supporting its value as an immunostimulant and has the additional appeal of only requiring a small dose (15 mg/day) for efficacy.


1 Global Medicinal Mushroom Extract Market 2021 is predicted to rise with a CAGR of by 2026 | Including Growth Prospect, Market Size & Growth, Key Vendors, Top most Regions. January 28, 2021. The Express Wire. www.theexpresswire.com/pressrelease/Global-Medicinal-Mushroom-Extract-Market-2021-is-predicted-to-rise-with-a-CAGR-of-by-2026-Including-Growth-Prospect-Market-Size-Growth-Key-Vendors-Top-most-Regions_12411707.

2 Halpern GM, Miller AH. Medicinal Mushrooms. New York: M. Evans & Company; 2002:59-74.

3 Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms: An exploration of tradition, healing and culture. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press; 1995.

4 Nanba H, Hamaguchi AM, Kuroda H. The chemical structure of an antitumor polysaccharide in fruit bodies of Grifola frondosa (maitake). Chem Pharm Bull 1987; 35:1162-8.

5 Yamada Y, Nanba H, Kuroda H. Antitumor effect of orally administered extracts from fruit body of Grifola frondosa (maitake). Chemotherapy 1990; 38:790-6.

6 Nanba H. Immunostimulant activity in vivo and anti-HIV activity in vitro of 3 branched b-1–6-glucans extracted from maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa). VIII International Conference on AIDS, Amsterdam, 1992 [abstract].

7 Kubo K, Nanba H. Anti-hyperliposis effect of maitake fruit body (Grifola frondosa). I. Biol Pharm Bull 1997; 20:781-5.

8 Adachi K, Nanba H, Otsuka M, Kuroda H. Blood pressure lowering activity present in the fruit body of Grifola frondosa (maitake). Chem Pharm Bull 1988; 36:1000-6.

9 Nakai R, et al. Effects of maitake (Grifola frondosa) water extact on inhibition of adipocyte conversion of C3H10T1/2B2C1 cells. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol 1999; 45:385-390.

10 Konno S, Tortorelis DG, Fullerton SA, et al. A possible hypoglycaemic effect of maitake mushroom on Type 2 diabetic patients. Diabet Med 2001;18:1010.

11 Chen JT, Tominaga K, Sato Y, et al. Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) extract induces ovulation in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: a possible monotherapy and a combination therapy after failure with first-line clomiphene citrate. J Altern Complement Med 2010;16:1295-9.

12 Yokota M. Observatory trial of anti-obesity activity of maitake (Grifola frondosa). Anshin 1992; 7:202-4.

13 Maitake Mushroom monograph. TRC Natural Medicines. Last modified on 2/5/2021. Retrieved June 9, 2021 from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=560#background.

14 McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1997.

15 Maitake Mushroom monograph. TRC Natural Medicines. Last modified on 2/5/2021. Retrieved June 9, 2021 from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=560#background.

16 McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1997.

17 McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1997.

18 Deng G, Lin H, Seidman A, Fornier M, D’Andrea G, Wesa K, Yeung S, Cunningham-Rundles S, Vickers AJ, Cassileth B. A phase I/II trial of a polysaccharide extract from Grifola frondosa (Maitake mushroom) in breast cancer patients: immunological effects. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2009 Sep;135(9):1215-21.

19 Wesa KM, Cunningham-Rundles S, Klimek VM, Vertosick E, Coleton MI, Yeung KS, Lin H, Nimer S, Cassileth BR. Maitake mushroom extract in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS): a phase II study. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2015 Feb;64(2):237-47.

20 Vetvicka V, Vetvickova J. Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts. Ann Transl Med. 2014 Feb; 2(2): 14.

21 Vetvicka V, Vetvickova J. Immunostimulating Properties of Two Different β−glucans Isolated from Maitake Mushrooms (Grifola frondosa). JANA. 8(3):33-9.

Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, the dean of academics for Huntington College of Health Sciences, is a nutritionist, herbalist, writer and educator. For more than 30 years he has educated and trained natural product retailers and health care professionals, has researched and formulated natural products for dozens of dietary supplement companies, and has written articles on nutrition, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals and integrative health issues for trade, consumer magazines and peer-reviewed publications. He can be reached at gbruno@hchs.edu.