Isabel C.F.R. Ferreira, Lillian Barros and Rui M.V. Abreu Pages 1543 - 1560 ( 18 )
Maintenance of equilibrium between free radical production and antioxidant defences (enzymatic and non enzymatic) is an essential condition for normal organism functioning. When this equilibrium has a tendency for the production of free radicals we say that the organism is in oxidative stress. In this situation, excess free radicals may damage cellular lipids, proteins and DNA, affecting normal function and leading to various diseases. In aerobic organisms, the free radicals are constantly produced during the normal cellular metabolism, mainly in the form of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS). Exposition of the organism to free radicals has led to the development of endogenous defence mechanisms to eliminate them. These defences were the response of evolution to the inevitability of ROS production in aerobic conditions. Natural products with antioxidant activity may help the endogenous defence system. In this perspective the antioxidants present in the diet assume a major importance as possible protector agents reducing oxidative damage. Particularly, the antioxidant properties of wild mushrooms have been extensively studied by our research group and by others, and many antioxidant compounds extracted from these sources have been identified, such as phenolic compounds, tocopherols, ascorbic acid, and carotenoids. We will review the compounds identified so far in mushrooms, as well as the mechanism of action involved in their antioxidant properties. Wild mushrooms might be used directly in diet and promote health, taking advantage of the additive and synergistic effects of all the bioactive compounds present.
, , Instituto Politecnico de Braganca, Campus de Sta. Apolonia, 1172, 5301-855 Braganca, Portugal.