Cordycepin from Cordyceps militaris prevents hyperglycemia in alloxan-induced diabetic mice

Nutr Res. 2015 May;35(5):431-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.04.011. Epub 2015 Apr 18.


Cordyceps militaris has long been used in prescriptions of traditional Chinese medicine as a tonic for the treatment of metabolic syndrome. Cordycepin with proven immunomodulatory, antitumor, and hepatoprotective properties is the main active metabolite of C militaris. Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases in which the body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels. Hence, we hypothesized that cordycepin can normalize blood sugar levels and improve the indicators of diabetes. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible effects of cordycepin from C militaris on diabetes in an alloxan-induced diabetic mouse model. Diabetic mice were intraperitoneally administered different doses of cordycepin (8, 24, and 72 mg/kg body weight) daily for 21 days. Acute toxicity test on normal mice was carried out by giving them maximum tolerance dose of cordycepin (3600 mg/kg) daily. A 47% reduction of the blood glucose level, 214% increase of hepatic glycogen content, and significant improvement of oral glucose tolerance were noticed after the effective dose of cordycepin was administered. Polyphagia and polydipsia, the typical symptoms of diabetes, were partly alleviated. Moreover, cordycepin offered protective effects against diabetes-related kidney and spleen injury. Maximum tolerance dose test indicated that cordycepin at the large dose of 3600 mg/kg did not show significant effect on body weight and major organ in normal mice after intraperitoneal administration for 14 days. The results showed that cordycepin from C militaris that elicited hypoglycemic activity contributes to the regulation of glucose metabolism in liver in alloxan-induced diabetic mice. Therefore, a cordycepin treatment during diabetes can improve some of the metabolic syndrome symptoms by regulation of glucose absorption in vivo. Cordycepin may serve as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of diabetes and its related complications.

Keywords: Blood glucose; Cordycepin; Cordyceps militaris; Diabetes; Hepatic glycogen; Mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alloxan
  • Animals
  • Animals, Outbred Strains
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cordyceps / chemistry*
  • Deoxyadenosines / administration & dosage
  • Deoxyadenosines / adverse effects
  • Deoxyadenosines / isolation & purification
  • Deoxyadenosines / therapeutic use*
  • Diabetes Complications / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Female
  • Hyperglycemia / prevention & control*
  • Hyperphagia / complications
  • Hyperphagia / prevention & control
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Liver Glycogen / agonists
  • Liver Glycogen / metabolism
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Mice
  • Polydipsia / complications
  • Polydipsia / prevention & control
  • Random Allocation
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Toxicity Tests, Acute


  • Blood Glucose
  • Deoxyadenosines
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Liver Glycogen
  • Alloxan
  • cordycepin