AHCC supplement side effects, and health benefits August 23, 2011
Active hexose correlated compound (AHCC), a mushroom extract rich in α-1,4 linked
glucans, is a fermented mushroom extract that is promoted for immune support. It is also a
mixture of polysaccharides, amino acids, lipids and minerals derived from cultured mycelia of
a Basidiomycete mushroom, Lentinula edodes. [Sun B, Cancer Epidemiol. 2009 Oct;33(3-4):
293-9. Epub 2009 Aug 20.]

Supplementation with AHCC appears to modulate immunity and increase survival in
response to acute infection. [Ritz BW. Nutr Rev. 2008 Sep;66(9):526-31.; Fujii H et al, Regul
Toxicol Pharmacol. 2011 Mar;59(2):237-50. Epub 2010 Oct 14.]

AHCC® is a proprietary compound produced by cultivation and enzymatic modification of
several species of mushroom mycelia, including shiitake, grown in rice bran extract. AHCC®
is a registered trademark of Amino Up Chemical Co Sapporo, Japan. AHCC has been
studied extensively for its effects on the immune system. Shiitake may boost the immune
system through the activation of macrophages and promoting the proliferation of NK cell and
B-lymphocytes, and promoting antibody production. AHCC® is thought to be able to promote
a healthy immune system and support the healthy functioning of the liver, as well as act as
an antioxidant.

Research

Immune Response
AHCC enhances protective host immune responses against West Nile virus infection in
young and aged mice. [Wang S, et al, J Nutr. 2009 Mar;139(3):598-602. Epub 2009 Jan 13.]

Male C57BL/6 mice were supplemented with AHCC at daily doses of 0.05, 0.1, 0.5, and 1
g/kg and infected intranasally with influenza A virus (H1N1, PR8). Supplemented mice
demonstrated a dose-dependent increase in survival and reduction in the loss of body
weight. [Noqusa S. et al, Nutr Res. 2009 Feb;29(2):139-43.]

Cancer
AHCC is used as a supplement by some cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy; it is
thought to benefit the therapeutic effects and reduce the side effects of select
anticarcinogenic agents. AHCC has been reported to strengthen the anticancer effects of
cisplatin and ameliorate its side effects in female BALB/cA mice inoculated with Colon-26
tumor cells.

In one study, the role of AHCC in alleviating the side effects induced by several other
anticancer drugs was explored in non-tumor-bearing mice receiving monotherapy with
paclitaxel, or multi-drug chemotherapy with paclitaxel plus cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil (5FU) plus
irinotecan, cisplatin plus 5FU, or doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide. It was found that the
multi-drug treatments significantly reduced bone marrow cell viability in all groups and
leukocyte count in all groups except for paclitaxel+cisplatin; these myelosuppresive effects
were generally alleviated by AHCC. Hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity caused by the
treatments that included paclitaxel and cisplatin were also significantly improved by AHCC.
The death rate was 20 to 30 percent in all treatment groups except paclitaxel+cisplatin, and
supplementation with AHCC greatly reduced or eliminated mortality. [Shigama K et al, J Exp
Ther Oncol. 2009;8(1):43-51.]

Liver
A group of researchers has studied the antiinflammatory effect of AHCC in the
trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (TNBS) model of colitis in rats. Rats received AHCC (100 or 500
mg/kg) daily starting 2 d before (pretreatment) colitis induction and were killed 6 d after the
TNBS challenge. AHCC administration attenuated colonic inflammation, improving rat weight,
food intake, damage score, extension of necrosis, colonic weight, colonic weight-to-length
ratio, myeloperoxidase and alkaline phosphatase activities, glutathione concentration, and
the expression of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines (IL-1beta, IL-1 receptor
antagonist, TNF, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1) and of mucins 2-4 and trefoil
factor 3. [Daddaoua A, J Nutr. 2007 May;137(5):1222-8.]

AHCC was found to improve the prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma patients following
surgical treatment. AHCC was found to prolong survival and improve the prognosis of
patients with advanced liver cancer. A prospective cohort study was performed with 44
patients with histologically confirmed liver cancer. AHCC treated-patients with longer survival
time had the tendency of better outcomes since the levels of AST and ALT had not
increased rapidly from their baselines at follow-up. In addition, the levels of total IL-12 and
neopterin were slightly increased in AHCC treated-patients. [Cowawintaweewat S, Asian Pac
J Allergy Immunol. 2006 Mar;24(1):33-45.]

Dose, Commercial Product
AHCC® Proprietary Blend contains mushroom mycelia extract, candelilla wax, cyclodextrin
and microcrystalline cellulose. The recommended amount per serving of the proprietary
blend is 1 g.

Side Effects, Risk, Adverse Effects,Toxicity of AHCC
Freeze-dried preparation of AHCC was not mutagenic to Salmonella typhimurium and did not
exhibit clastogenicity in a mouse micronucleus assay. In a 90-day study, Sprague-Dawley
rats were administered 1000, 3000, or 6000 mg/kg body weight/day by gavage. No changes
attributable to freeze-dried AHCC treatment were observed in overall condition, body weight,
food consumption, ophthalmology findings, hematology and clinical chemistry parameters,
and absolute and relative organ weights. Changes in urinary pH values observed in high-
dose animals and mid-dose females were considered physiological rather than adverse
effects given the acidic nature of freeze-dried AHCC. [Fujii H. et al, Regul Toxicol Pharmacol.
2011 Mar;59(2):237-50. Epub 2010 Oct 14.]

In another study, adverse effects of nausea, diarrhea, bloating, headache, fatigue, and foot
cramps occurred in a total of 6 subjects (20%) but were mild and transient. [Spierings EL, J
Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2007 Dec;53(6):536-9.]
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