Researchers from CIBIR, the Biomedical Research Center of La Rioja, and CTICH, the Technological Research Center of La Rioja's Mushroom, have evaluated the neuroprotective effects of consuming two popular mushrooms: the white mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) and the Portobello (Agaricus bisporus brunnescens).
In their study, carried out with mice, the researchers fed the mice for fifteen weeks a feed that contained 5% of one of the other of these fungi.
When studying the composition of the intestinal microbiota (the community of bacteria that lives in the intestine and that regulates the physiology of the carrier), they found that the mice that took the mushroom-enriched diets showed great changes towards a healthier microbiota thanks to the prebiotic effect of the mushrooms, which promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and a reduction of potentially harmful ones.
More and more results show that the so-called ‘microbiota-intestinal-brain axis’ exists so that bacteria in the intestine can directly influence brain physiology. Thus, the scientists subjected the mice to stress to investigate if the changes in the microbiota produced by the mushrooms had an effect on their brains.
As expected, they found that the stress situation increased the expression of certain brain oxidation markers while decreasing the activity of antioxidant enzymes. However, these markers remained at normal levels in the animals that had eaten the feed with one or the other fungi for 3 weeks and that were exposed to stress.
Cerebral oxidative stress has been shown to be one of the main risk factors in the development of neurodegenerative diseases, so an activity as simple (and tasty) as adding mushrooms to dishes can help curb the worrying escalation in the number of cases of these diseases.
The study was led by Dr. Alfredo Martínez (CIBIR) and Dr. Marga Perez (CTICH) and it was funded with the help of the Economic Development Agency of La Rioja (ADER), the Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of La Rioja, and ERDF funds. The results of the work have been published in the Antioxidants journal.