The protective effect of cordyceps sinensis extract on cerebral ischemic injury via modulating the mitochondrial respiratory chain and inhibiting the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway

Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Apr;124:109834. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2020.109834. Epub 2020 Jan 21.


Cerebral ischemia is a common refractory brain disease, resulting from a reduction in the blood flow to the brain. Mitochondrial dysfunction leads to ischemic stroke and brain injury. Cordyceps sinensis (CS) is an important traditional Chinese medicine, which has been linked to neuroprotection in recent studies. In this study, we investigated the role of the mitochondrial respiratory chain and the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway on the protective effect of Cordyceps sinensis extract (CSE) against cerebral ischemia injury both in vivo and in vitro. In a murine middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) model, administration of CSE relieved neuronal morphological damage and attenuated the neuronal apoptosis. CSE also reduced neurobehavioral scores and oxygen free radical (OFR), while improving the levels of ATP, cytochrome c oxidase (COX), and mitochondrial complexes I-IV. Furthermore, the mRNA expression of Bax, cytochrome c (Cyt c) and caspase-3 were down-regulated. In brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) exposed to oxygen and glucose deprivation (OGD), CSE prevented OGD-induced cellular apoptosis, and recovered the reduction of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP). Moreover, CSE treatment induced an increase of Bcl-2 protein expression and a decrease of Bax, Cyt c and caspase-3 protein expression. Meanwhile, the caspase-3, -8, and -9 activities were also inhibited. The results indicate that CSE can relieve cerebral ischemia injury and exhibit protective effects via modulating the mitochondrial respiratory chain and inhibiting the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway.

Keywords: Cerebral is chemic injury; Cordyceps sinensis; Mitochondrial apoptotic pathway; Mitochondrial respiratory chain.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Brain Ischemia / prevention & control*
  • Cordyceps / chemistry*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electron Transport / drug effects
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery
  • Male
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / isolation & purification
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke / prevention & control*


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Plant Extracts