Cordyceps sinensis and its fractions stimulate MA-10 mouse Leydig tumor cell steroidogenesis

J Androl. 2001 Sep-Oct;22(5):831-7.


The effects of Cordyceps sinensis (CS) and its extracted fractions on steroidogenesis in MA-10 cells were determined. Different concentrations of CS and 3 fractions of CS (F1, a water-soluble polysaccharide; F2, a water-soluble protein; and F3, a poorly water-soluble polysaccharide and protein) were added to MA-10 mouse Leydig tumor cells with or without human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and the production of steroid and the expression of steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) were examined. The results showed that CS alone (2-10 mg/mL) stimulated MA-10 cell progesterone production in a dose-dependent relationship. Fractions F1 and F3 (2-10 mg/mL) also had significant (P < .05) stimulatory effects on MA-10 cell steroidogenesis with a dose-dependent relationship. However, fraction F2 did not have an effect on MA-10 cells. CS and F3, but not F1, significantly induced more steroid production in hCG-stimulated MA-10 cells (P < .05). As a temporal relationship, F1 and F3 (2 mg/mL) maximally stimulated progesterone production between 1 and 3 hours after stimulation in MA-10 cells. In addition, CS and F3 significantly enhanced MA-10 cell StAR protein expression, which indicates that CS and F3 may use a cyclic adenosine monophosphate signal transduction pathway to activate MA-10 Leydig cell steroidogenesis in a manner to that of luteinizing hormone.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Claviceps / cytology
  • Claviceps / physiology*
  • Leydig Cell Tumor / metabolism*
  • Leydig Cell Tumor / pathology
  • Mice
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Progesterone / biosynthesis*
  • Radioimmunoassay


  • Phosphoproteins
  • steroidogenic acute regulatory protein
  • Progesterone