Immunoregulatory Cordyceps sinensis increases regulatory T cells to Th17 cell ratio and delays diabetes in NOD mice

Int Immunopharmacol. 2009 May;9(5):582-6. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2009.01.030.


Cordyceps sinensis (CS) is a parasitic fungus, and it has been used widely in traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) for centuries. Many studies have shown that CS has immunoregulatory activity in many disease models, but the underlying mechanism remains elusive. We studied whether CS could suppress the onset of diabetes by altering T lymphocyte subsets in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. We found that the onset of type 1 diabetes in NOD mice was associated with an imbalance of CD4(+)CD25(+)FoxP3(+) regulatory T (Treg) cells and IL-17 producing Th17 cells. Oral administration of CS resulted in reduction in the overall incidence of diabetes, and this was due to an increase in the ratio of Treg cells to Th17 in the spleen and pancreatic lymph nodes (PLNs). Taken together, these data imply that CS is able to modulate Treg to Th17 cell ratio in vivo, thus contributing to the inhibition of diabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4 Antigens
  • Cell Movement
  • Cordyceps*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / immunology
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-17 / genetics
  • Interleukin-17 / immunology
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / pathology


  • CD4 Antigens
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Foxp3 protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-17
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit