Adenosine is a basic component of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP supplies all cells with energy and is also a DNA component. Adenosine also acts as neurotransmitter with a molecular structure similar to that of caffeine. It occupies the same receptors, but without stimulating them.

Additionally, it is component of certain coenzymes. An adenosine element is adenine. One of its derivates is eritadenine, which is contained in Shiitake.

Physiological Effects on the Body

All energy-consuming physical processes involve the degradation of ATP. In the process, adenosine is released. In the nervous system, adenosine occupies specific receptors, which block stimulating substances such as caffeine or activating neurotransmitters such as dopamine, acetylcholine or noradrenalin. There is a feedback effect: the more active the neural cells are, the more ATP is consumed and the more adenosine accumulates. As a result, more receptors are blocked, the neural cell function is decelerated and the brain is protected from “overload”. Additionally, the blockage of activating neurotransmitters causes the blood vessels to dilate and thus lowers the blood pressure.

However, the increased adenosine level also stimulates glycolysis, which increases the available energy. On the other hand, adenosine suppresses lipolysis.

Adenosine can block thrombin and vasopressin, which inhibits platelet aggregation and leads to vascular dilatation through relaxation of the smooth muscles.

Adenosine also protects the liver from oxygen deficiency through vascular dilatation and causes bronchial dilatation (expansion of the bronchi) in the lungs.

Moreover, adenosine acts as endogenous regulator of immune and inflammatory processes. It inhibits the activation of neutrophil granulocytes, phagocytosis and the production of specific toxic inflammatory process by-products, which prevents excessive damage.

Adenosine has also been shown to protect the organism from free oxygen radicals that are produced during the course of the normal oxidative metabolic process and particularly in states of hypoxia and ischemia.

Adenosine is also said to alleviate pain. Eritadenin is responsible for the Shiitake mushroom’s cholesterol-lowering properties.

Incidence in specific mushrooms

Adenosine, with the polysaccharides and triterpenes, accounts for the adaptogenic properties in mushrooms. Adenosine provides for an increased supply of energy, counteracts excessive stimulation of the nervous system and relaxes the smooth muscles. 

A concrete verification of the presence of adenosine has been found in these mushrooms: Agaricus blazei murrill, Auricularia, Cordyceps (cordycepin), Reishi and Shiitake (eritadenin).


  • Willard, T.: „Reishi - Der Wunderpilz der alten Chinesen“; Heyne Verlag, 1999
  • Klotz, Prof. Dr. Karl-Norbert: „A2B Adenosin Rezeptoren in der kardiovaskulären Pathologie - von der Medizinischen Chemie zur molekularen Genetik“; University of Würzburg