Cordyceps sinensis preserves intestinal mucosal barrier and may be an adjunct therapy in endotoxin-induced sepsis rat model: a pilot study

Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015 May 15;8(5):7333-41. eCollection 2015.


Background: Cordyceps sinensis (C. sinensis), a traditional Chinese medicine, exhibits various pharmacological activities such as reparative, antioxidant, and apoptosis inhibitory effects. Intestinal barrier dysfunction plays a vital role in the progression of sepsis. We aimed to explore the effect of C. sinensis on the gut barrier and evaluate its efficacy in sepsis.

Methods: A murine model of gut barrier dysfunction was created by intraperitoneal injection of endotoxin. C. sinensis or saline was administered orally after the induction of sepsis. Alterations of intestinal barrier were evaluated and compared in terms of epithelial cell apoptosis, proliferation index (PI), intercellular tight junction (TJ) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA).

Results: C. sinensis significantly decreased the percentage of apoptotic cells and promoted mucosal cells proliferation indicated by enhanced PI and PCNA expression in the intestinal mucosa compared to control group. The TJs between epithelial cells which were disrupted in septic rats were also restored by treatment of C. sinensis. In survival studies, C. sinensis was demonstrated to confer a protection against the lethal effect of sepsis.

Conclusion: These results suggest that C. sinensis has gut barrier-protection effect in endotoxin-induced sepsis by promoting the proliferation and inhibiting the apoptosis of intestinal mucosal cells, as well as restoring the TJs of intestinal mucosa. C. sinensis may have the potential to be a useful adjunct therapy for sepsis.

Keywords: Cordyceps sinensis; gut barrier; intestinal barrier; sepsis.