A 90-Day Subchronic Toxicity Study of Submerged Mycelial Culture of Cordyceps cicadae (Ascomycetes) in Rats

Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015;17(8):771-81. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i8.70.


Cordyceps cicadae is a parasitic fungus that hibernates inside a host (Cicada flammata Dist.) and then grows its fruiting body on the surface of the insect. The complete insect/fungus combination of C. cicadae has been widely applied in Chinese traditional medicine. Recent studies have demonstrated that the medicinal benefits of cultured mycelia are as effective as those found in the wild. However, toxicological information regarding the chronic consumption of C. cicadae mycelia culture is not available. This study was conducted to evaluate the possible toxicity arising from repeated exposure to freeze-dried submerged mycelial culture of C. cicadae for 90 days. A total of eighty 8-week-old Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into 4 groups (10 males and 10 females in each group). C. cicadae was administered daily to animals by gavage at doses of 0, 500, 1000, and 2000 mg/kg body weight for 90 days. No animal deaths occurred and no treatment-related clinical signs were observed during the study period. No statistical differences in body weight gain, relative organ weight, hematology, serum chemistry, and urinalysis were observed. Gross necropsy and histopathological findings indicated that there was no treatment-related abnormality. Based on the results, the no observed adverse effect level of C. cicadae whole broth is determined to be > 2000 mg/kg for male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. The results of this study provides support for the use of C. cicadae fermentation product as a safe agent in functional food.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cordyceps / chemistry*
  • Cordyceps / growth & development
  • Culture Techniques
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mycelium / chemistry
  • Mycelium / growth & development
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Toxicity Tests, Subchronic