Apoptosis of human hepatocarcinoma (HepG2) and neuroblastoma (SKN-SH) cells induced by polysaccharides-peptide complexes produced by submerged mycelial culture of an entomopathogenic fungus Cordyceps sphecocephala

J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2008 Mar;18(3):512-9.


Three different polysaccharide-peptide complexes (PPC, named as Fr-I, Fr-II, and Fr-III) were produced by submerged mycelial culture of an entomopathogenic fungus Cordyceps sphecocephala, and their anticancer activities were investigated in human hepatocarcinoma (HepG2) and neuroblastoma (SK-N-SH) cells. The highest inhibitory effects of PPC on both HepG2 and SK-N-SH cells were achieved with Fr-I, whereas Fr-III with low molecular mass showed lower inhibition effects. Interestingly, the inhibitory effects of the three fractions were increased after protease digestion, suggesting that the inhibitory effects resulted mainly from the carbohydrate moiety, at least in the case of Fr-II and Fr-III, of PPC. The results of DNA fragmentation in PPC-induced apoptotic cells were confirmed by both DNA ladder assay and comet assay. Our investigation also showed that PPC-induced apoptosis of both cancer cells was associated with intracellular events including DNA fragmentation, activation of caspase-3, and modulation of Bcl-2 and Bax. We conclude that PPC has potential as a novel therapeutic agent for the treatment of both HepG2 and SK-N-SH cancer cells without any cytotoxicity against normal cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / chemistry
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / genetics
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism
  • Bees / microbiology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cordyceps / growth & development
  • Cordyceps / metabolism*
  • DNA Fragmentation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Korea
  • Mycelium / growth & development
  • Mycelium / metabolism*
  • Proteoglycans / chemistry
  • Proteoglycans / isolation & purification
  • Proteoglycans / pharmacology*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Proteoglycans
  • polysaccharide peptide