Being Cordyceps militaris (L.) Link recognized as a medicinal and edible mushroom, this work intends to reveal new interesting bioactive molecules that could be isolated from this species. Hydrophilic and lipophilic compounds were analyzed by chromatographic techniques coupled to different detectors. The methanolic extract of C. militaris was tested for its antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-proliferative properties in different human tumor cell lines. Mannitol (2.01 g/100 g dw) and trehalose (24.71 g/100 g) were the free sugars found in C. militaris. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (68.87%) predominated over saturated fatty acids (23.40%) and δ-tocopherol was the only isoform of vitamin E detected (55.86 μg/100 g). The organic acids found in this mushroom were oxalic, citric and fumaric acids (0.33, 7.97 and 0.13 g/100 g, respectively). p-Hydroxybenzoic acid was the only phenolic acid quantified in this species (0.02 mg/100 g); although cinnamic acid was also found (0.11 mg/100 g). The methanolic extract of C. militaris proved to inhibit lipid peroxidation, have reducing power and scavenge free radicals. This extract also revealed strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. Finally, the C. militaris extract was able to inhibit the proliferation of MCF-7 (breast), NCI-H460 (non-small lung), HCT-15 (colon) and HeLa (cervical) human carcinoma cell lines.
Keywords: Anti-proliferative properties; Antimicrobial activity; Antioxidant potential; Chemical characterization; Cordyceps militaris; Medicinal/edible mushroom.
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