Sun-exposed oyster mushrooms can help fight tuberculosis

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Tuberculosis continues to remain one of the deadliest infectious diseases and is predominant in some of the low income countries. Around 1.6 million people are dying of this disease every year. In a new study, researchers have shown that sun-exposed oyster mushrooms offer a readily available source of vitamin D that can help patients suffering from TB respond better to anti-TB drugs, by improving the immune response.

TibebeSelassie Seyoum Keflie, a doctoral fellow at the University of Hohenheim, Germany said, “TB is becoming more difficult to fight due to the emergence of drug-resistant strains, creating an urgent need for new treatments that can support first-line drugs.” Such a source of Vitamin D is ideal for countries with lower income groups as mushrooms can easily be distributed and administered in a safe, low-cost, easy-to-replicate manner.

Keflie had conducted the research with Hans Konrad Biesalski and will present the research at Nutrition 2019, the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting, held June 8-11, 2-19 in Baltimore. The studies have shown that Vitamin D induces the body to form an antimicrobial compound that attacks the bacterial cause of TB. The sun exposure can improve a person’s vitamin D levels and it must be obtained with the help of a diet when sun exposure is limited. The researchers here used oyster mushrooms as they are cheap as well as safe and are readily available source of Vitamin D which is easily absorbed by the body.

But the fresh oyster mushrooms contain almost no vitamin D and the fungus produces it after the exposure to sunlight similar to the human body. Keflie said, “This is the first time that vitamin D derived from oyster mushrooms exposed to sun has been shown to be a potential adjunctive therapy for TB. With educational outreach, it might be possible to teach people with TB to irradiate their own mushroom for a brief period before cooking.” The researchers are now planning additional investigations on the interactions of Vitamin D.

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