Cordyceps militaris Improves Chronic Kidney Disease by Affecting TLR4/NF- κ B Redox Signaling Pathway

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019 Mar 31;2019:7850863. doi: 10.1155/2019/7850863. eCollection 2019.


Cordyceps militaris may show good promise in protecting against chronic kidney disease (CKD) but the molecular mechanism remains unclear. CKD risk is associated with the Toll-like receptor 4/nuclear factor-kappa B (TLR4/NF-κB) signaling pathway. Cordycepin is the main component of Cordyceps militaris and may affect the TLR4/NF-κB pathway. Cordycepin was prepared by preparative HPLC. CKD patients were assigned into Cordyceps militaris (COG, 100 mg daily) and placebo (CG) groups. Cordycepin activity was measured using human embryo kidney cells (HEK293T). Biochemical indices, the levels of TLR4, NF-κB, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), were measured by real-time qRT-PCR, or ELISA kits and or Western blot. After 3-month treatment, cordycepin reduced the levels of urinal protein, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and creatinine by 36.7%±8.6%, 12.5%±3.2%, and 18.3%±6.6%, respectively (P < 0.05). Cordyceps militaris improved lipid profile and redox capacity of CKD patients by reducing the serum levels of TG, TC, and LDL-C by 12.8%±3.6%, 15.7%±4.1%, and 16.5%±4.4% and increasing the HDL-C level by 10.1%±1.4% in the COG group when compared with the CG group, respectively (P < 0.05). The serum levels of cystatin-C (Cys-C), myeloperoxidase (MPO), and malondialdehyde (MDA) were reduced by 14.0%±3.8%, 26.9%±12.3%, and 19.7%±7.9% while nitric oxide (NO) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) were increased by 12.5%±2.9% and 25.3%±13.4% in the COG group when compared with the CG group, respectively (P < 0.05). Cordycepin reduced the levels of TLR4, NF-κB, COX2, TNF-α, and IL-1β in HEK293T cells too (P < 0.05). However, cordycepin could not affect the levels anymore if TLR4 was silenced. Cordyceps militaris protected against CKD progression by affecting the TLR4/NF-κB lipid and redox signaling pathway via cordycepin.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cordyceps
  • Deoxyadenosines / administration & dosage*
  • Deoxyadenosines / chemistry
  • Female
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1beta / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / blood
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood


  • Deoxyadenosines
  • IL1B protein, human
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • NF-kappa B
  • TLR4 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • cordycepin