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Ganoderma lucidum or Reishi is recognized as the most potent adaptogen present in nature, and its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory and anticancer activities are well known. Moreover, lately, there has been an increasing interest from pharmaceutical companies in antiaging G. lucidum-extract-based formulations. Nevertheless, the pharmacological mechanisms of such adaptogenic and regenerative actions remain unclear. The present investigation aimed to explore its molecular and cellular effects in vitro in epidermal keratinocyte cultures by applying liquid chromatography coupled to ion trap time‐of‐flight mass spectrometry (LCMS-IT-TOF) for analysis of ethanol extracts using ganoderic acid-A as a reference compound. The G. lucidum extract showed a keratinocyte proliferation induction accompanied by an increase of cyclic kinase protein expressions, such as CDK2 and CDK6. Furthermore, a noteworthy migration rate increase and activation of tissue remodelling factors, such as matrix metalloproteinases 2 and 9 (MMP-2 and MMP-9), were observed. Finally, the extract showed an antioxidant effect, protecting from H2O2-induced cytotoxicity; preventing activation of AKT (protein kinase B), ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase), p53 and p21; and reducing the number of apoptotic cells. Our study paves the path for elucidating pharmacological properties of G. lucidum and its potential development as cosmeceutical skin products, providing the first evidence of its capability to accelerate the healing processes enhancing re-epithelialization and to protect cells from free-radical action.
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Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224; doi:10.3390/ph13090224 www.mdpi.com/journal/pharmaceuticals
Article
Ganoderma lucidum Ethanol Extracts Enhance Re-
epithelialization and Prevent Keratinocytes from
Free-Radical Injury
Mario Abate
1,†
, Giacomo Pepe
2,†
, Rosario Randino
1,2
, Simona Pisanti
1
,
Manuela Giovanna Basilicata
2
, Verdiana Covelli
2
, Maurizio Bifulco
3
, Walter Cabri
4
,
Anna Maria D’Ursi
2
, Pietro Campiglia
2
and Manuela Rodriquez
2,
*
1
Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry “Scuola Medica Salernitana”, University of Salerno, Via
Salvatore Allende, 84081 Baronissi Salerno, Italy; mabate@unisa.it (M.A.); rrandino@unisa.it (R.R.);
spisanti@unisa.it (S.P.)
2
Department of Pharmacy, University of Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II, Fisciano, 84084 Salerno, Italy;
gipepe@unisa.it (G.P.); mbasilicata@unisa.it (M.G.B.); vcovelli@unisa.it (V.C.); dursi@unisa.it (A.M.D.);
pcampiglia@unisa.it (P.C.)
3
Department of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnologies, University of Naples Federico II, Via
Pansini, 80131 Naples, Italy; maurizio.bifulco@unina.it
4
Chemistry Department "G. Ciamician", University of Bologna, Via Selmi 2, 33, 40126 Bologna, Italy;
walter.cabri@unibo.it
* Correspondence: mrodriquez@unisa.it; Tel: +39-089-969254; Fax: +39-089-969602
These two authors contributed equally to this work.
Received: 8 August 2020; Accepted: 26 August 2020; Published: 29 August 2020
Abstract: Ganoderma lucidum or Reishi is recognized as the most potent adaptogen present in nature,
and its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory and anticancer activities are well
known. Moreover, lately, there has been an increasing interest from pharmaceutical companies in
antiaging G. lucidum-extract-based formulations. Nevertheless, the pharmacological mechanisms of
such adaptogenic and regenerative actions remain unclear. The present investigation aimed to
explore its molecular and cellular effects in vitro in epidermal keratinocyte cultures by applying
liquid chromatography coupled to ion trap time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LCMS-IT-TOF) for
analysis of ethanol extracts using ganoderic acid-A as a reference compound. The G. lucidum extract
showed a keratinocyte proliferation induction accompanied by an increase of cyclic kinase protein
expressions, such as CDK2 and CDK6. Furthermore, a noteworthy migration rate increase and
activation of tissue remodelling factors, such as matrix metalloproteinases 2 and 9 (MMP-2 and
MMP-9), were observed. Finally, the extract showed an antioxidant effect, protecting from H
2
O
2
-
induced cytotoxicity; preventing activation of AKT (protein kinase B), ERK (extracellular signal-
regulated kinase), p53 and p21; and reducing the number of apoptotic cells. Our study paves the
path for elucidating pharmacological properties of G. lucidum and its potential development as
cosmeceutical skin products, providing the first evidence of its capability to accelerate the healing
processes enhancing re-epithelialization and to protect cells from free-radical action.
Keywords: Ganoderma lucidum; wound healing; triterpenic acids; oxidative stress; cosmeceuticals
1. Introduction
Ganoderma lucidum (Ling Zhi (in China) or Reishi (in Japan)), also known as “the fungus of
immortality”, is recognized among most important traditional medicinal mushrooms and most
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 2 of 16
powerful adaptogens present in nature, since it acts as a regulator of biological functions [1–3]. The
pharmacological properties of G. lucidum, such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiaging,
immunomodulatory and antitumour activities [4–7], are due to its peculiar chemical composition in
bioactive compounds such as polysaccharides, terpenoids, nucleotides, steroids, fatty acids, proteins
and glycopeptides [8,9]. Based on that, G. lucidum was also reported to act as an adjuvant in the
treatment of several diseases, i.e., anorexia, hypertension, insomnia and chronic hepatitis [10–12].
Among the terpenoid class, the most represented are triterpenes (ganoderic acids, ganoderoli
acids, ganoderenics and lucid acids), which exhibit well-recognized anti-inflammatory, antioxidant,
antitumour, anti-hepatitis, hypoglycaemic, antimalarial and antimicrobial activities [13–19].
Recently, bioactive extracts of G. lucidum have been having great success in the nutraceutical and
cosmeceutical fields; indeed, its triterpenic acids are often found in cosmetics formulations [20]. In
this respect, the G. lucidum extracts can be used to control hyperpigmentation as photoprotective
agents, to suppress inflammatory skin diseases, to mitigate lipid metabolic disorders and to balance
gut microbiota composition [21–23]. Nevertheless, the mechanism of action and the biological targets
behind their beneficial dermatological effects are still unclear. Thus, a deeper understanding of the
biology of the molecular interactions might be acquired.
Therefore, in this work, we aimed first to assess the chemical composition of triterpenic acids in
the fruiting body of the fungus, highlighting its potential as a valuable source of bioactive compounds,
and then to provide any further pharmacological evidence of how the ethanol extract of G. lucidum is
able to boost the wound healing process and to prevent premature skin aging, lessening free-radical
action. These findings paved the path for developing highly effective G. lucidum-based cosmeceuticals.
2. Results
2.1. Extraction and Characterization of G. lucidum Pericarp
In the attempt to maximize ganoderic acid extraction, we performed an ethanol procedure
operation as described in the Materials and Methods section. The ethanol extracts of G. lucidum were
analysed by UHPLC-ESI-IT-TOF (Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatography - Electrospray
ionization -Ion Trap- Time of flight) for quantification of triterpenes in G. lucidum ethanol extracts. In
Figure 1, we showed the chromatographic profile acquired by UHPLC couplet to Photodiode Array
Detector (PDA) (λ = 254 nm) of the G. lucidum extract.
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 3 of 16
Figure 1. UHPLC-PDA (λ = 254 nm) chromatographic profile of the G. lucidum extract.
In Table 1, we showed the chemical structures of the identified triterpenoids. In Table 2,
identification and quantification of triterpenes in the G. lucidum ethanol extract were reported.
Table 1. Chemical structures of the triterpenoids identified in the G. lucidum extract.
Peak Retention
time (min)
Molecular
Formula
[M H]
Observed
[M H]
Calculated
Error
(ppm) MS
2
m/z Tentative Identification
1 19.49
C
30
H
46
O
8
533.3106 533.3120 2.63 515.3096 12-hydroxyganoderic
acid C
2
2 19.94
C
30
H
42
O
8
529.2807 529.2807 0.00 511.2468
20-hydroxyganoderic
acid AM1
3 20.55
C
30
H
42
O
8
529.2843 529.2807 4.89 511.2698
12-deacetylganoderic
acid H
4 21.19
C
30
H
44
O
8
531.2962 531.2963 0.19 513.2930 Ganoderic acid η
5 21.75
C
30
H
42
O
8
529.2774 529.2807 6.23 511.2707;
467.2884
12-hydroxyganoderic
acid D
6 22.42
C
30
H
46
O
7
517.3189 517.3171 3.48 499.3131 Ganoderic acid C
2
7 22.49
C
30
H
46
O
8
529.2801 529.2807 1.13 511.2640;
467.2661 Ganoderic acid C6
8 22.78
C
27
H
40
O
6
459.2761 459.2752 1.96 441.2709 Lucidenic acid N
9 23.07
C
30
H
44
O
8
531.2991 531.2963 5.27
513.2849;
469.2961 Ganoderic acid G
10 23.27 C
30
H
42
O
7
513.2864 513.2858 1.17 495.2737 Ganoderenic acid B
11 23.52 C
30
H
44
O
7
515.2979 515.3014 6.79 497.2841 Ganoderic acid B
12 23.61 C
29
H
40
O
8
515.2651 515.2650 0.19 473.2539 Lucidenic acid E
13 23.79 C
32
H
44
O
9
571.2936 571.2913 4.03 553.2818 Ganoderenic acid K
14 23.85 C
30
H
42
O
7
513.2847 513.2858 2.14 495.2708 Ganoderic acid AM
1
15 23.95 C
32
H
46
O
9
573.3067 573.3069 0.35 555.2977 Ganoderic acid K
16 24.09 C
30
H
42
O
8
529.2825 529.2807 3.40 511.2753 Ganoderic acid
derivative
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 4 of 16
17 24.25 C32H42O9 569.2750 569.2756 1.05 551.2746 Ganoderic acid F
18 24.32 C30H44O7 515.3061 515.3014 4.12 497.2940 Ganoderic acid A
19 24.49 C32H44O9 571.2909 571.2913 0.70 553.2850 Ganoderic acid H
20 24.68 C30H40O8 527.2648 527.2650 0.38 509.2487 Elfvingic acid A
21 24.81 C27H38O6 457.2620 457.2596 5.25 439.2390 Lucidenic acid A
22 24.89 C30H44O6 499.3001 499.3065 6.40 481.3798 Ganolucidic acid A
23 25.17 C30H40O7 511.2717 511.2701 3.13 493.2400 Ganoderenic acid D
24 25.31 C27H36O6 455.2449 455.2439 2.20
380.2072;
301.1813 Lucidenic acid F
25 25.72 C29H38O8 513.2508 513.2494 2.73 471.2400 Lucidenic acid D
26 26.04
C34H46O10 613.2997 613.3018 3.42 595.2916;
553.2831 3-acetylganoderic acid H
27 26.58 C32H42O9 569.2736 569.2697 3.85 551.2649 12-acetoxyganoderic
acid F
28 26.81 C30H42O7 513.2859 513.2858 0.19 451.2844 Ganoderic acid J
29 28.20 C30H44O6 499.3089 499.3065 4.81 437.2981 Ganolucidic acid D
30 31.98 C30H44O5 483.3122 483.3116 1.24
439.3309;
409.2717 Ganolucidic acid E
Table 2. Identification of triterpenes in the G. lucidum ethanol extract.
A B C
Peak Compound Name Type R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Double
Bond
1 12-hydroxyganoderic acid C2 A β-OH β-OH α-OH OH -
4 Ganoderic acid η C β-OH β-OH =O β-OH β-OH
5 12-hydroxyganoderic acid D A =O β-OH =O OH -
6 Ganoderic acid C2 A β-OH β-OH α-OH H -
7 Ganoderic acid C6 A β-OH =O =O β-OH -
8 Lucidenic acid N B β-OH β-OH =O H -
9 Ganoderic acid G A β-OH β-OH =O β-OH -
10 Ganoderenic acid B A β-OH β-OH =O H - Δ20,22
11 Ganoderic acid B A β-OH β-OH =O H -
12 Lucidenic acid E B β-OH =O =O β-OAc -
13 Ganoderenic acid K A β-OH β-OH =O β-OAc - Δ20,22
14 Ganoderic acid AM1 A β-OH =O =O H -
15 Ganoderic acid K A β-OH β-OH =O β-OAc -
17 Ganoderic acid F A =O =O =O H -
18 Ganoderic acid A A =O β-OH α-OH H -
19 Ganoderic acid H A β-OH =O =O β-OAc -
20 Elfvingic acid A A =O =O β-OH α-OH - Δ20,22
21 Lucidenic acid A B =O β-OH =O H -
22 Ganolucidic acid A A =O H α-OH H -
23 Ganoderenic acid D A =O β-OH =O H - Δ20,22
24 Lucidenic acid F B =O =O =O H -
25 Lucidenic acid D B =O =O =O β-OAc -
26 3-acetylganoderic acid H A β-OAc =O =O β-OAc -
27 12-acetoxyganoderic acid F A =O =O =O β-OAc -
28 Ganoderic acid J A =O =O α-OH H -
29 Ganolucidic acid D C =O H α-OH H β-OH
30 Ganolucidic acid E C =O H α-OH H H
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 5 of 16
2.2. Evaluation of G. lucidum Extract Effect in HaCaT Cells
First, we evaluated the effect of the extract on human keratinocytes. HaCaT cells were cultured
with increasing concentrations of the ethanol extract and standard ganoderic acid A (0–640 µg mL1) as
a control for 24 and 48 h. As reported in Figure 2, only at the highest doses did the extract show a
negative effect either on cell viability evaluated by MTT (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-
diphenyltetrazolium bromide) assay (Figure 2a) or on cell proliferation (BrdU incorporation, Figure 2b),
in both cases comparable to the pure ganoderic acid A profile.
(a)
(b)
Figure 2. Evaluation of the G. lucidum extract effect in HaCaT cells: HaCaT cells were cultured for 24
or 48 h in the presence of the indicated concentrations (0–640 µg mL1) of the G. lucidum extract or
ganoderic acid A before MTT assay (a) or BrdU incorporation (b). The results are expressed as means
± SD of independent experiments performed in triplicate and str reported as percentage vs. the
untreated control (ANOVA, *p < 0.05 vs. control).
Interestingly, we identified an interval of concentrations (5 and 10 µg mL1) where the G. lucidum
extract induced an increase of DNA synthesis, hence stimulating cell proliferation both at 24 h and
48 h (p 0.05).
2.3. Improvement of the Migratory Capacity of Human Keratinocytes Exposed to G. lucidum Extract
In order to assess the potential effect of G. lucidum ethanol extract on the migratory function of
HaCaT cells, we performed a scratch wound assay (Figure 3) treatment for 24 h with vehicle (CTR,
control) or G. lucidum ethanol extracts at five increasing concentrations (0.62–10 µg mL1) in complete
medium (Figure 3a).
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 6 of 16
(a) (b)
Figure 3. Improvement of the migratory capacity of human keratinocytes exposed to the G. lucidum
extract: (a) wound healing assay performed in HaCaT cells treated for 24 h with vehicle (CTR) or G.
lucidum extracts at the indicated concentrations (0.62–10 µg mL1) in complete medium.
Representative light microscope images from three independent experiments are shown. Dotted
white lines indicate the wounded area from the initial scratch. Magnification is at ×20. (b) Histograms
represent the mean scratch area observed in HaCaT cells expressed as a percent of the initial area. The
measurement was made in three different experiments. The results are presented as mean ± standard
error (ANOVA, * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001 and **** p < 0.0001 vs. control).
After 24 h of cell culture, in the presence of the G. lucidum extract, we observed an enhancement
of wound healing at all doses tested from 0.62 to 10 µg mL1, with 10 µg mL1 being the most effective
dose (****p < 0.0001), as shown in light microscope images from three independent experiments
(Figure 3a) and in a histogram representation of the mean scratch area (Figure 3b).
2.4. G. lucidum Ethanol Extract Induces Expression of Proteins Linked to the Control of Cell Cycle and
Migration
In order to investigate the molecular pathways tuned by G. lucidum extracts in the previous
experiments, we determined by Western blot analysis the status of the same proteins involved in both
cell cycle progression and cell migration (Figure 4).
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 7 of 16
(a)
(b)
Figure 4. G. lucidum ethanol extracts induced cell cycle progression and migration protein expression.
(a) Western blot analysis of cyclin B1, CDK6, CDK2 and cyclin D3 in whole cell extracts from HaCaT
cells cultured for 24 h in the presence of the indicated concentrations of G. lucidum ethanol extract:
Tubulin was used as a control for protein loading. The panel shows a representative Western blot of
three different experiments performed with similar results. Histograms represent mean ± SD in
densitometry units of scanned immunoblots from the 3 different experiments (ANOVA, *** p < 0.001,
** p < 0.01 and * p < 0.05). (b) Western blot analysis of p-EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor),
EGFR, MMP-2 (total and cleaved), MMP-9 and Phospho-Src in whole cell extracts from HaCaT cells
cultured for 24 h in the presence of the indicated concentrations of G. lucidum ethanol extract: Tubulin
was used as a control for protein loading. The panel shows a representative Western blot of three
different experiments performed with similar results. Histograms represent mean ± SD in
densitometry units of scanned immunoblots from the 3 different experiments (ANOVA, *** p < 0.001,
** p < 0.01 and * p < 0.05).
To this end, we treated cells with the G. lucidum ethanol extract at the most effective doses, 5 and
10 µg mL1 for 24 h. According to the wound healing results, we observed that the G. lucidum ethanol
extract increased the expression of cell cycle regulation proteins such as cyclin D3, CDK2 and CDK6
(Figure 4a). Besides, we showed that G. lucidum extracts induced MMPs, such as MMP2 (total and
cleaved) and MMP9 expression (Figure 4b), and then subsequently triggered the EGRF signalling
cascade. Activation of the downstream EGFR pathway, inducing phosphorylation of Src (Figure 4b),
suggested that exposition to G. lucidum extracts provided a driving force in human keratinocyte
migration.
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 8 of 16
2.5. G. lucidum Ethanol Extract Ameliorates Cytotoxicity and Apoptosis Induced by H2O2 in HaCaT Cells
HaCaT cells were exposed to H2O2 (0–800 µM) for 6 h, and the MTT assay was used as an
indicator of cell viability (Figure 5). H2O2 induced cytotoxicity in a dose-dependent manner. The
decrease in cell viability was statistically significant at 50 µM H2O2, whereas cell viability was reduced
to 35.4% at 200 µM H2O2 (Figure 5a). Scientific evidence shows that relatively low concentrations of
H2O2 caused apoptotic death of more cells (maximal at 250 µM), whereas 1000 µM H2O2 resulted in
a reduction in apoptosis but an increase in overall cell death [24]. Therefore, in our system, we used
200 µM H2O2 in the subsequent experiments. We observed that at 18 h pretreatment of keratinocytes
with the G. lucidum ethanol extract at 5 and 10 µg mL1 protected the cells from H2O2-induced
cytotoxicity. Cell viability declined to 35.4% ± 7.3% after exposure to 200 µM H2O2 for 6 h, whereas it
increased to 78.6% ± 3.5% and 84.2% ± 4.5% with the G. lucidum extract at 5 and 10 µg mL1 doses,
respectively (Figure 5b). In order to strength the data obtained with the MTT assay, we performed a
cell death analysis by annexin-V and propidium iodide double staining. As shown in Figure 5c, G.
lucidum pretreatment before H2O2 exposure resulted in a significant reduction of apoptosis and
particularly of early apoptosis.
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 9 of 16
(a) (b)
(c)
Figure 5. G. lucidum ethanol extract ameliorated cytotoxicity and apoptosis H2O2 induced in HaCaT
cells: (a) HaCaT cells were cultured for 6 h in the presence of the indicated concentrations of H2O2 (25–
800 µM) before MTT assay. The results are expressed as means ± SD of independent experiments
performed in triplicate and are reported as percentage vs. the untreated control (ANOVA, * p < 0.05,***
p < 0.001 and **** p < 0.0001 vs. control). (b) HaCaT cells were cultured for 18 h in the presence of the
indicated concentrations (0, 5 and 10 µg mL1) of the G. lucidum ethanol extract before treatment with
H2O2 for 6 h. The results are expressed as means ± SD of independent experiments performed in
triplicate and are reported as percentage vs. the untreated control (ANOVA, * p < 0.05 vs. control). (c)
Flow cytometric analysis of annexin V and propidium iodide (PI) double staining in the G. lucidum
ethanol extract-treated HaCaT cells after 18 h and H2O2 for 6 h: histograms indicate the total
percentage of early (annexin V-positive cells/PI-negative cells) and late apoptotic events (annexin
V/PI-double positive cells) as well as necrotic cells (annexin V-negative cells/PI-positive cells). The
results are representative of four independent experiments performed in duplicate and are expressed
as mean ± SD (ANOVA, * p < 0.05).
2.6. G. lucidum Extract Prevents the Activation of Cell Death Molecular Pathways
AKT, ERK, p53 and p21 are critical proteins involved in the control of cell response to external
damages, i.e., those induced by free radicals, and are involved in apoptosis activation [25,26]. Aiming
to elucidate cell death molecular pathways modulated by G. lucidum extract, we performed Western
blot analysis of STAT3 (Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3), AKT, p53, ERK (total and
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 10 of 16
phosphorylated) and p21 in whole-cell extracts from HaCaT cells (Figure 6) using hydrogen peroxide
to mimic oxidative stress-induced injury (OSI) within a short period [27].
(a) (b)
Figure 6. Ganonderic acid extract prevented the activation of cell death molecular pathways. (a)
Western blot analysis of STAT3, AKT, p53, ERK (total and phosphorylated) and p21 in whole cell
extracts from HaCaT cells cultured for 18 h in the presence of the indicated concentrations of the G.
lucidum ethanol extract and H2O2 for 6 h: Tubulin was used as a control for protein loading. The panel
shows a representative Western blot of three different experiments performed with similar results.
(b) Histograms represent mean ± SD in densitometry units of scanned immunoblots from the 3
different experiments (ANOVA, *** p < 0.001, ** p < 0.01 and * p < 0.05).
The phosphorylation status of the abovementioned and p21 proteins in 18 h pretreated cells with
ganoderic extract at 5 and 10 µg mL1 doses, H2O2 or their combination was evaluated using tubulin
as a control for protein loading (Figure 6).
We observed that H2O2 treatment increased the levels of p-AKT, p-ERK, phospho-p53 and p21
whereas G. lucidum extract treatment partially reversed these effects significantly, preventing both
activation and shutdown of STAT3 signalling, critical for cell survival [28] (Figure 6a,b).
3. Discussion
Bioactive extracts from G. lucidum only recently have been reported to present remarkable in
vitro and in vivo pharmacological properties beneficial also to the development of cosmeceutical
formulations [21]. However, despite the commercial success, the pharmacological efficacy, especially
in the field of cosmetic dermatology, still needs more in-depth scientific support. Lately, an in vitro
analysis of the G. lucidum ethanolic extract as a dermatological ingredient was carried out, showing
its suitability for skincare formulations as the absence of toxicity in keratinocytes and fibroblasts
[28,29].
In this context, the present study reported the effect of G. lucidum on human keratinocytes as an
in vitro skin model for evaluation of its dermatological properties which can be transferred to the
cosmetics field for cosmetic use or to the therapeutic field for possible medical applications.
The ethanol extraction of G. lucidum was selected and listed as the most robust and suitable
extraction method for this class of natural compounds [30,31], and detailed identification,
characterization of chemical structures and quantification of triterpenes by UHPLC-ESI-IT-TOF
analysis were performed for a detailed molecular description. In vitro studies on cultures of human
keratinocytes were conducted by comparing G. ludicum extract activity with ganoderic acid A, the
main G. lucidum described bioactive compound and mostly present in skin products available on the
market [9,32,33]. Once the lack of cytotoxicity by G. lucidum ethanol extract was confirmed, we
identified an interval of concentrations (5 and 10 µg mL1) for the induction of cellular DNA synthesis,
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 11 of 16
hence stimulating cell proliferation only for the G. lucidum ethanol extract, with respect to gandoreic
acid A. This activity, observed only for the G. lucidum ethanol extract, might be ascribed to other
bioactive ganoderic acids present in lower quantities or also might be attributable to a synergistic
effect of various active components present in the ethanol extract.
Importantly, additional lines of evidence of this proliferation induction by G. lucidum ethanol
extract treatment indicate an increase of the cyclin-dependent kinase protein expressions, mainly
CDK2 and CDK6 (Figure 4a), key components of the cell cycle machinery for G1 to S transition.
To evaluate if G. lucidum ethanol extract treatment could be helpful for skin care, from minor,
superficial and basic skin injuries to more complicated pathological states such as ulcers or bedsores,
pathologies which, in addition to cell proliferation, also required suitable cell migration [34], we
evaluated whether the extract treatment influenced the expression and activity of proteins involved
in cell migration. Furthermore, we reported an increase of the migration rate supported by activation
of the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), specifically MMP-2 and MMP-9; the pathways
downstream EGFR stimulation; and phospho-Src (Figure 4b), important factors for stimulation of cell
migration and normal tissue remodelling [35,36]. These results were confirmed by the functional
wound healing assay at all doses tested from 0.62 to 10 µg mL1, with 10 µg mL1 being the most
effective dose (Figure 3a,b).
Since oxidative stress plays a crucial role in several diseases pathogenesis, including allergic and
inflammatory skin diseases like atopic dermatitis, urticaria and psoriasis [37], and in skin aging and
since regulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels is essential for maintenance of healthy skin
homeostasis [38], we investigated whether the G. lucidum extract was able to protect cells from H2O2-
induced cytotoxicity. In our system, 6 h exposure of 200 µM H2O2 reduced more than 35% of cell
viability; thus, this concentration was used in subsequent experiments. The G. lucidum ethanol extract
at 5 and 10 µg mL1 doses reverted this trend, reducing the oxidative stress-induced injury to 15%
(Figure 5b). These data were corroborated by annexin-V and propidium iodide double staining cell
death analysis, which showed that G. lucidum pretreatment before H2O2 exposure resulted in a
significant reduction of apoptosis, particularly of early apoptosis (Figure 5c). To elucidate cell death
molecular pathways modulated by G. lucidum extract, we performed Western blot analysis of STAT3,
AKT, p53, ERK (total and phosphorylated) and p21 in whole-cell extracts from HaCaT cells pretreated
for 18 h with the ganoderic extract (Figure 6) using H2O2 to mimic OSI within a short time period. We
observed that H2O2 treatment increased the levels of p-AKT, p-ERK, phospho-p53 and p21.
Our study confirmed that pretreatment with G. lucidum extracts partially reversed these effects,
significantly preventing both activation and shutdown of STAT3 signalling involved in cell damage
and apoptosis activation (Figure 6a,b). These data suggested that ERK signalling plays a critical role
in the induction of survival, migration and proliferation in G. lucidum extract-treated cells and that
protective effects against OSI, at least partially, depended upon STAT3 inhibition.
Our results, confirming what is already reported in scientific literature for the antioxidant
activity of the G. lucidum extract [39] in addition to its anticancer, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory
activities [39,40], provide the first evidence of an increase in cell migration and an accelerated healing
process and, at the same time, show the proteins involved and the possible molecular mechanisms in
these activities.
4. Materials and Methods
4.1. Chemicals and Materials
The fruiting bodies of G. lucidum were provided by Indena S.p.A. (Viale Ortles 12, 20139 Milan,
Italy) as dry material. Ganoderic acid A was purchased from Sigma-Aldrich Inc. (St Luis, MO, USA).
The G. lucidum extract was solubilized in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) (0.01% in our assays) and added
to cell cultures at the reported concentrations. H2O2 was purchased from Sigma-Aldrich (Milan, Italy).
For Western blot analysis, the following antibodies were used: mouse monoclonal antihuman α-
Tubulin, rabbit polyclonal antihuman phospho-STAT3 (p-STAT3; Tyr705), rabbit monoclonal
antihuman STAT3, rabbit monoclonal antihuman phospho-p44/42 MAPK (p-Erk1/2; Thr202/Tyr204),
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 12 of 16
rabbit monoclonal antihuman p44/42 MAPK (Erk1/2), rabbit monoclonal antihuman phospho-Akt
(p-Akt; Ser473), rabbit monoclonal antihuman Akt, rabbit polyclonal p53, rabbit polyclonal antibody
to phosphorylated p53, rabbit monoclonal antihuman p21, mouse monoclonal antihuman CDK6,
rabbit monoclonal antihuman CDK2, mouse monoclonal antihuman cyclin D3, rabbit monoclonal
antihuman phospho-EGFR (p-EGFR; Tyr1068) and rabbit monoclonal antihuman EGF receptor were
purchased from Cell Signaling Technology (Danvers, MA, USA). Mouse monoclonal MMP2, mouse
monoclonal antihuman MMP9, rabbit polyclonal antihuman Src (phospho Y418) and rabbit
monoclonal antihuman cyclin B1 were purchased from Abcam (Cambridge, UK). Secondary HRP
(Horseradish Peroxidase)-linked goat anti-mouse or goat anti-rabbit IgG were also purchased from
Cell Signaling Technology (Danvers, MA, USA).
4.2. Sample Preparation
The dried powder of G. lucidum (3 g) was extracted with 100 mL of ethanol by refluxing in a
Soxhlet apparatus for 6 h, and the solvent was evaporated under reduced pressure. The dried ethanol
residue was then extracted with ethyl acetate three times. Finally, the ethyl acetate fractions were
combined, filtered, evaporated and lyophilized for 24 h (LyoQuest-55, Telstar Technologies, Terrassa,
Spain), using condenser temperature at 52 °C and 0.100 mBar as vacuum value [30].
4.3. LCMS-IT-TOF Analysis of G. lucidum Extract
A Shimadzu Nexera UHPLC system consisting of a SIL-30AC autosampler, a CBM-20A controller,
a DGU-20 AR5 degasser, two LC-30AD pumps, a CTO-20AC column oven and an SPD-M20A
photodiode array detector was used for UHPLC-ESI-IT-TOF analyses. The UHPLC system was coupled
online to an LCMS–IT-TOF mass spectrometer through an ESI source (Shimadzu, Kyoto, Japan). LC-
MS data elaboration was performed by the LCMSsolution® software (Version 3.50.346, Shimadzu).
LC-MS analysis of the G. lucidum extract was carried out on Kinetex® C18 150 × 2.1 mm (100 Å),
packed with 2.6 µm core-shell particles column (Phenomenex, Bologna, Italy). The injection volume
was 2 µL, and the flow rate was 0.5 mL min1. The temperature of the column oven was set to 40 °C.
The following PDA parameters were applied: sampling rate, 12.5 Hz; detector time constant, 0.240 s;
and cell temperature, 40 °C. Data acquisition was set in the range 190–400 nm, and chromatograms
were monitored at 254 nm at maximum absorbance of the compounds of interest. The mobile phase
consisted of H2O (A) and ACN (B), both acidified by formic acid 0.1% v/v. The analysis was performed
in gradient elution as follows: 0.01–5.00 min, isocratic to 1% B; 5.01–53.00 min, 1–95% B; 53.01–56.00
min, isocratic to 95% B; then four minutes for column re-equilibration.
Negative ionization mode was used for MS detection operating with the following parameters:
detector voltage, 1.65 kV; CDL (Curved Desolvation Line) temperature, 250 °C; block heater
temperature, 250 °C; nebulizing gas flow (N2), 1.5 L/min; and drying gas pressure, 100 kPa. Full scan
MS data were acquired in the range of 150–1600 m/z (ion accumulation time, 30 ms; IT (Ion trap)
repeat = 2). MS/MS experiments were conducted in the data-dependent acquisition, and precursor
ions were acquired in the range 100–1200 m/z; ion accumulation time, 60 ms; CID (Collision Induced
Dissociation) energy, 50%; collision gas, 50%; repeat = 1; execution trigger (BPC Base Peak
Chromatogram) intensity, at the 70% stop level.
Identification was carried out based on standard retention time and UV spectra and by
comparing MS/MS data with those present in the literature [30]. Molecular formulas were calculated
by the Formula Predictor software (Version 1.12, Shimadzu), setting a low tolerance so that most of
the identified compounds were in position 1 in the list of possible candidates.
4.4. Quantitative Analysis
As an external standard, we chose ganoderic acid A for quantification of triterpenes in the G.
lucidum ethanol extract. The stock solution (1 mg mL1) was prepared in ethanol, the calibration curve
was obtained in a concentration range of 200–0.5 µg mL1 with seven concentration levels (200, 50, 25,
10, 5, 1 and 0.5 µg mL1) and triplicate injections of each level were run. Peak areas of ganoderic acid
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 13 of 16
A were plotted against corresponding concentrations (µg mL1). The amount of compounds in the
sample was expressed as milligram per gram of dried extract, and linear regression was used to
generate calibration curve with r2 values 0.9999. Limits of detection (LOD) and quantification (LOQ)
were calculated by the ratio between the standard deviation (SD) and the analytical curve slope
multiplied by 3.3 and 10, respectively.
4.5. Cells
Human immortalized keratinocytes (HaCaT) were grown in Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s
medium (DMEM, GIBCO, Grand Island, NY, USA) and supplemented as described in detail
elsewhere [41]. HaCaT cells were kindly provided by Giuseppe Monfrecola (Department of
Experimental Dermatology, University of Naples, Naples, Italy).
All cell cultures were maintained at 37 °C in a humidified 5% CO2 atmosphere.
4.6. Determination of Cells Viability, MTT Assay
HaCaT cells (6 × 103/well) were cultured for 24 h into 96-well plates before the addition of the
individual substances at the indicated concentrations and were cultured for an additional 24–48 h at
37 °C The reduction of the MTT (3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazolyl-2)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide)
tetrazolium salts assay was employed to examine cells’ viability, as described in detail elsewhere [42].
All experiments were performed in triplicate, and the relative cell viability was expressed as a
percentage in comparison with the untreated control cells.
4.7. Determination of Cells Proliferation, BrdU Assay
HaCaT cells (6 × 103/well) were cultured for 24 h into 96-well plates before the addition of the G.
lucidum ethanol extract or ganoderic acid-A at the indicated concentrations and were cultured for an
additional 24–48 h at 37 °C. Cell proliferation was evaluated by measuring BrdU incorporation into
DNA (BrdU colorimetric assay kit; Roche Applied Science, South San Francisco, CA) and was
determined by an ELISA plate reader (ThermoScientific, Waltham, MA, USA) at 450 nm as described
in detail elsewhere [43]. All experiments were performed in triplicate, and the relative cell growth
was expressed as percentage in comparison with the untreated control cells (100%).
4.8. Scratch Wound Healing Assay
To evaluate the effect of G. lucidum extracts on HaCaT cell migration, the cells were plated in 6-
well plates at a density of 5 × 103 cells/well. When the confluent cells formed a homogeneous carpet
and a vertical wound in the wells using a 200 µL tip was performed, culture medium containing G.
lucidum extracts at the indicated concentrations or the vehicle alone was added to the wells, after the
removal of detached cells. The wound area was recorded immediately and after 24 h through
microscope analysis, as previously described [41].
4.9. Apoptosis Analysis
Quantitative assessment of apoptosis of HaCaT cells was analysed by antihuman annexin V
(BioLegend, San Diego, CA, USA) using propidium iodide solution (PI) staining. Briefly, cells grown
in 100-mm dishes for 24 h with G. lucidum extracts, H2O2 or combined as indicated were harvested
with trypsin, washed in phosphate buffer saline (PBS) and subjected to apoptosis determination by
the procedure described in detail elsewhere [43].
4.10. Western Blot Analysis
Cells were grown in p60 tissue culture plates at a density of 2 × 104 cells/cm2 for 24 h. Cells were
then incubated with vehicle, G. lucidum extracts (for 24 h), H2O2 (for 6 h) or their combination (G.
lucidum extracts for 18 h and H2O2 for an additional 6 h), as indicated. After incubation, cells were
washed with PBS, harvested and lysed in ice-cold RIPA lysis buffer (50 mM Tris-HCl, 150 mM NaCl,
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 224 14 of 16
0.5% Triton X-100, 0.5% deoxycholic acid, 10 mg mL1 leupeptin, 2 mM phenylmethylsulfonyl
fluoride and 10 mg mL1 aprotinin) and then assayed for Western blot by the procedure, which is
described in detail elsewhere [44].
4.11. Statistical Analysis
Statistical analysis was performed in all experiments shown by using the GraphPad Prism 6.0
software for Windows (GraphPad software). For each type of assay or phenotypic analysis, data
obtained from multiple experiments are calculated as mean ± SD and analysed for statistical significance
using the 2-tailed Student t-test for independent groups or using ANOVA followed by Bonferroni
correction for multiple comparisons. p values less than 0.05 were considered significant. * p < 0.05, ** p <
0.01 and *** p < 0.001.
5. Conclusions
We provided the first scientific evidence that G. lucidum ethanol extract due to its high content
in triterpenes remarkably increased cell migration patterns and accelerated the healing process,
principally enhancing re-epithelialization and, at the same time, protecting the skin from the action
of free radicals, paving the way for possible medical applications. Moreover, the prevention of skin
aging leads to considering its formulations attractive as cosmeceuticals. Additional in vivo and
clinical studies are requested to develop and validate novel nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals and
pharmacological formulations.
Author Contributions: M.A. and G.P. wrote the paper, designed and conducted the research, and analysed and
interpreted data; M.G.B. and V.C. performed the research; R.R. and S.P. analysed data and reviewed the paper
critically; A.M.D., M.B. and W.C. provided important suggestions including some reagents along with critical
reading of the paper; S.P., M.B., P.C. and M.R provided financial support to the project; P.C. and M.R. were fully
responsible for the study design and supervised the project in its entirety. All authors have read and agreed to
the published version of the manuscript.
Funding: This research was funded supported by “Nutraceutica e cosmeceutica come strumenti di tutela della
salute dell’uomo”—CUP: B48I17000160008—COR: 652124—F/050127/03/X32; Fondo per la Crescita
Sostenibile—Horizon 2020 PON “IMPRESE E COMPETITIVITA” 2014–2020 FESR; and Associazione Italiana
Ricerca sul Cancro (AIRC; IG 13312, IG 18999, AIRC and Fondazione Cariplo TRIDEO 2015 No. 17216).
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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(CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
... So far, the health-promoting properties of Ganoderma fungi have been attributed primarily to the presence of triterpenoid compounds [29]. However, the high polyphenol The phenolic acid content was the lowest, at 912.38 mg/100 g DW (Table 1). ...
... So far, the health-promoting properties of Ganoderma fungi have been attributed primarily to the presence of triterpenoid compounds [29]. However, the high polyphenol content found in our study could indicate that this class of compounds plays an important role in shaping the therapeutic properties. ...
... Peak 1 was identified as ganoderic acid C2 with [M-H] at m/z 517.3228 and a fragmentation ion at m/z 499 (Table 2) [29]. Peak 2 contained a pseudomolecular ion at m/z 529.2790 that fragmented at m/z 511 and was identified as ganoderic acid C6 [10]. ...
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... Approximately 400 bioactive compounds have been reported in different parts of Lingzhi (fruiting bodies, mycelium, and spores) (Ahmad et al. 2021). These products have potent pharmacological activity, such as antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor, anti-HIV-1, antioxidant, and cholesterollowering activity (Abate et al. 2020;Ahmad 2020;Bhat et al. 2019;Kang et al. 2015;Meng et al. 2019;Vallavan et al. 2020; Qi Wang and Pengyan Qi have contributed equally to this work and share first authorship. Wang et al. 2019;Xu et al. 2011). ...
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Five new aromatic compounds, designed as lucidumins A-D (1–4) and lucidimine E (9), along with seven known aromatic compounds (5–8, 10–12) were isolated from Ganoderma lucidum. Their structures were determined by spectroscopic method. Bioactive evaluation showed that compounds 2–4 and 6–10 displayed remarkable neuroprotective activities against corticosterone-induced PC12 cell damage, with the cell viability ranging from 69.99% to 126.00%; and compounds 1–4, 9 and 10 exhibited significant anti-inflammatory activities against LPS-induced nitric oxide (NO) production in RAW264.7 macrophages, with IC 50 values ranging from 4.68 to 15.49 μM. In particular, compound 10 showed remarkable neuroprotection with EC 50 value of 2.49 ± 0.12 μM, and potent anti-inflammation with IC 50 value of 4.68 ± 0.09 μM.
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As a traditional herbal medicine, the clinical efficacy of Ganoderma lucidum (G. lucidum, also known as Lingzhi in China) has been proved by clinical research and a large number of animal experiments. However, its pharmacological mechanism is not clear. Here, we used the Caenorhabditis elegans as an animal model to study the anti-oxidative stress and anti-aging effects of G. lucidum water extract. Our results showed that G. lucidum effectively promoted the nematodes to resist the oxidative stress of paraquat and heavy metal Cr⁶⁺, and significantly prolonged the lifespan of the nematodes. The underlining mechanisms were further investigated by focusing on the signaling pathways that regulate the stress responses and the lifespan. We found that G. lucidum protected the nematode against the insults of paraquat and heavy metals through the diet restriction pathway and the mTOR/S6K signaling pathway, respectively. Whereas, the effect of G. lucidum on the longevity of the nematode mainly depended on the germline signaling pathway. Microarray assays were conducted to reveal the gene expression profiles. The expression levels of 2746 genes were significantly changed during the aging process, of which 34 genes were reversed in their expression by the treatment of G. lucidum in aged nematodes. These results suggest that G. lucidum regulates the biophysiological processes in the nematodes through multiple signaling pathways.
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