Ganoderma triterpenes, which are bitter principles presented in Ganoderma (G.) lucidum as major constituents, are reviewed. The isolation of about 140 triterpenes containing oxygenated functional groups in a lanostane skeleton from this mushroom since 1982 is summarised and compiled along with their structure characterization. The determination and comparison on the content and composition of triterpenes among various specimens of G. lucidum completed by HPLC are discussed. Moreover, the recent advances of pharmacological effects of these triterpenes, including their anti-HIV and anti-HIV protease activities, and cytotoxicity, are also described.
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