Scientific validation of the Chinese caterpillar medicinal mushroom, Ophiocordyceps sinensis (Ascomycetes) from India: immunomodulatory and antioxidant activity

Int J Med Mushrooms. 2014;16(6):541-53. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v16.i6.40.


In the present study, we aimed to elucidate the antioxidant property and anti-inflammatory activity of the aqueous extract of the Indian species of Ophiocordyceps sinensis (AECS), which demonstrates medicinal activity against numerous diseases. The chemical composition of AECS was quantified using a colorimeteric technique to determine the total phenolic and flavonoid contents. Antioxidant activity was determined by assays for 2,2'-azinobis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid)diammonium salt (ABTS); 2,2-diphenyl-1-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH); and ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP). Adenosine nucleoside and nitrogenous bases (adenine and uracil) were also quantified by high-performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC). Furthermore, the aqueous extract was also analyzed for anti-inflammatory activity in vitro using THP1 cells. THP1 cells were treated with and without lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and AECS (at 25 µg/mL, 50 µg/mL and 100 µg/mL, respectively) for 24 h. After 24 h, supernatants were harvested and kept at -80°C until the cytokine assays were performed. Furthermore, nitric oxide (NO) content was also estimated in treated and untreated murine peritoneal macrophages using Griess reagent. AECS significantly suppressed LPS-induced release of TNF-α and IL-1β in THP1 cells and significantly suppressed NO release in macrophage cells without exerting any toxic effect. These results indicate the anti-inflammatory activity of AECS. Additionally, this extract also has an antioxidant property, as high contents of phenols and flavonoids are present in the extract with considerable reducing power. The results of this study clearly demonstrate the potent antioxidant property and anti-inflammatory activity of AECS. Therefore, consumption of AECS may be clinically useful to protect against inflammatory diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Adenine
  • Adenosine
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Ascomycota / chemistry*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Immunologic Factors / chemistry
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology*
  • India
  • Interleukin-1beta / genetics
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / drug effects
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Uracil


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Phenols
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Uracil
  • Adenine
  • Adenosine