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Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. As one of the most aggressive human cancers, the 5-year survival rate of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is <5% (1). Recent studies suggested that bioactive compounds from mushrooms could protect against multiple myeloma, breast and skin cancer (2–5).
Poria Cocos (also known as Wolfiporia extensa) is a medicinal mushroom in the Polyporaceae family that grows in pine trees and its sclerotium is widely used in traditional Asian medicine for its sedative, diuretic, digestive and tonic effects (6–8).
Although the anticancer activity of polysaccharides extracted from P. Cocos is associated with the stimulation of immune response and these polysaccharides significantly enhance immunopotentiation (9), triterpenes isolated from P. Cocos have a direct inhibitory effect on cancer cells through a variety of mechanisms including inhibition of cell proliferation, induction of apoptosis and suppression of invasive behavior (10–16). However, the effect of triterpenes from P. Cocos against pancreatic cancer remains to be evaluated and the mechanism determined.