Cordyceps Mushrooms (Cordyceps Sinensis)


The Chemical Constituents and Pharmacological Actions of Cordyceps Sinensis


Cordyceps sinensis, also called DongChongXiaCao (winter worm, summer grass) in Chinese, is becoming increasingly popular and important in the public and scientific communities. This study summarizes the chemical constituents and their corresponding pharmacological actions of Cordyceps sinensis. Many bioactive components of Cordyceps sinensis have been extracted including nucleoside, polysaccharide, sterol, protein, amino acid, and polypeptide. In addition, these constituents’ corresponding pharmacological actions were also shown in the study such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumour, antiapoptosis, and immunomodulatory actions. Therefore can use different effects of C. sinensis against different diseases and provide reference for the study of Cordyceps sinensis in the future.


C. sinensis, a macro fungus of biomedical importance, contains a number of bioactive components (Table 1). Many of them are biological response modifiers which activate our immune systems for a multitude of defensive functions. The immunomodulating effects are associated with its antitumour activity, which is the most proverbial effect of C. sinensis. Many ingredients in C. sinensis have the antitumour activity as shown above, such as cordycepin, adenosine, EPSF, cordyglucans, and monosaccharide saponins. As investigation into this fungus continues, more bioactive constituents with potential therapeutic value will be isolated. However, new methods and technologies need to be adopted to extract and analyse the components, requiring evaluation along the modern scientific line. Overall, so far, we know only a little of the wonders of this creature and it still has many secrets for us to discover. More research is needed on the herbal medicine and its related species.


Cordyceps sinensis promotes immune regulation and enhances bacteriostatic activity of PA-824 via IL-10 in Mycobacterium tuberculosis disease


PA-824 is a novel bicyclic nitroimidazole anti-tuberculosis (TB) drug. Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. (CS) was proven to be a good immunomodulatory compound. This research aimed to investigate the effect of CS on PA-824 in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infected mice (female CBA/J mice, 6 to 8 weeks of age and 20±2 g of weight). Mice were randomly assigned to 4 groups: PA-824, CS, PA-824+CS, and control. To verify the effect of PA-824 and CS on M.tb, after drug administration, mice lungs were harvested and bacterial colony formations were measured. Cells were isolated from infected lungs and spleens to analyze the percentage of CD4+ T cells (CD11a positive). Lung cells were cultured to detect the secretion of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) by ELISA. IFN-γ and IL-10 double-positive CD4+ cells in peripheral blood were measured by flow cytometry. The expression levels of IL-2 and IL-10 in mice lungs were analyzed by real-time PCR and western blot. Results showed that PA-824 combined with CS led to the lowest lung colony-forming units (CFU) counts among treated groups. Furthermore, this beneficial outcome might be associated with the decreased CD11a on CD4+ cells in mice lungs and spleens. Moreover, the suppressed secretion of IFN-γ and IL-10, and IL-10 expressions, as well as the decreased IFN-γ and IL-10 double-positive CD4+ cells in blood, could also be associated with the positive effect. However, no significant effect on IL-2 production was found. The combination of PA-824 and CS had more effective bacteriostatic and immunomodulatory effects on M.tb infected mice than PA-824 alone. In conclusion, CS has the potential to be an effective adjuvant in TB treatment.


In this study, the main finding was the enhanced activity of PA-824 by CS. As a traditional Chinese herbal, CS proved to be effective in promoting the PA-824 efficacy in the treatment of M.tb disease. In the development of anti-TB drugs, a major priority should be the ability to shorten the duration of TB treatment. Our results might also provide new perspectives for the use of traditional Chinese medicines combined with modern clinical drugs during clinical therapy, which might shorten the duration of tuberculosis treatment.


A Systematic Review of the Mysterious Caterpillar Fungus Ophiocordyceps sinensis in Dong-ChongXiaCao (冬蟲夏草 Dōng Chóng Xià Cǎo) and Related Bioactive Ingredients


The caterpillar fungus Ophiocordyceps sinensis (syn.† Cordyceps sinensis), which was originally used in traditional Tibetan and Chinese medicine, is called either “yartsa gunbu” or “DongChongXiaCao (冬蟲夏草 Dōng Chóng Xià Cǎo)” (“winter worm-summer grass”), respectively. The extremely high price of DongChongXiaCao, approximately USD $20,000 to 40,000 per kg, has led to it being regarded as “soft gold” in China. The multi-fungi hypothesis has been proposed for DongChongXiaCao; however, Hirsutella sinensis is the anamorph of O. sinensis. In Chinese, the meaning of “DongChongXiaCao” is different for O. sinensis, Cordyceps spp.,‡ and Cordyceps spƒ. Over 30 bioactivities, such as immunomodulatory, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities, have been reported for wild DongChongXiaCao and for the mycelia and culture supernatants of O. sinensis. These bioactivities derive from over 20 bioactive ingredients, mainly extracellular polysaccharides, intracellular polysaccharides, cordycepin, adenosine, mannitol, and sterols. Other bioactive components have been found as well, including two peptides (cordymin and myriocin), melanin, lovastatin, γ-aminobutyric acid, and cordysinins. Recently, the bioactivities of O. sinensis were described, and they include antiarteriosclerosis, antidepression, and antiosteoporosis activities, photoprotection, prevention and treatment of bowel injury, promotion of endurance capacity, and learning-memory improvement. H. sinensis has the ability to accelerate leukocyte recovery, stimulate lymphocyte proliferation, antidiabetes, and improve kidney injury. Starting January 1st, 2013, regulation will dictate that one fungus can only have one name, which will end the system of using separate names for anamorphs. The anamorph name “H. sinensis” has changed by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants to O. sinensis.


O. sinensis is a complex fungus with multiple biological functions. Over 20 bioactive ingredients have been found in O. sinensis, such as extracellular polysaccharides, intracellular polysaccharides, cordycepin, adenosine, and sterols, derived from its mycelia, culture supernatant, or fruiting body. In addition, over 30 bioactivities have been indicated, including immunomodulatory, antitumor, anti-inflammation, and antioxidant activities, in preparations or solvent extracts in in vitro, in vivo, or ex vivo studies. However, few publications have given regard to the bioactive ingredients, bioactivities, and the medium and culture conditions of O. sinensis and H. sinensis, which must be incubated for more than 10 days at low temperatures (below 21°C). The slow growth rate at low temperature is a critical characteristic of O. sinensis and H. sinensis. It has been demonstrated that these fungi grow poorly at temperatures above 21°C and stop growing at 25°C or above.

Empyrean Products That Contain Cordyceps Mushrooms (Cordyceps Sinensis)

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