In vitro evaluation of antioxidant activities of aqueous extracts from natural and cultured mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis

Lebensm Wiss Technol. 2008 May;41(4):669-677. doi: 10.1016/j.lwt.2007.05.002. Epub 2007 May 13.


Cordyceps sinensis, one of the best known traditional Chinese medicines and health foods, has been highly valued for the treatment of a wide range of diseases and reported to have antioxidant properties. In the present study, the antioxidant activities of hot-water extracts from natural and cultured mycelia of C. sinensis were investigated and evaluated using six in vitro assays, including inhibition of linoleic acid peroxidation; scavenging abilities on DPPH•, hydroxyl and superoxide anion radicals; the reducing power and the chelating ability on ferrous ions. Among these assays, the extracts showed the best effect on the inhibition of linoleic peroxidation with the lowest IC50 values and with an inhibition rate over 90% at concentration of 0.8-1.6 mg/ml, more stable than that of α-tocopherol, a recognised natural antioxidant. The scavenging activities on superoxide anion and hydroxyl radicals of the two extracts were slightly lower than that of butylated hydroxytoluene. DPPH• scavenging activities of both extracts reached over 80% inhibition at 4-8 mg/ml. Both extracts showed moderate reducing power and ferrous ion chelating activity. The IC50 value of the extract from cultured mycelia in all the tests, except for linoleic acid peroxidation, was significantly lower than that of natural mycelia. There was no evident correlation between the antioxidant activity and the content of protein, polysaccharides and mannitol of extracts from C. sinensis; the antioxidant activity may be due to a combined effect of these or some other compounds. These results suggested that both the extracts from cultured and natural mycelia have direct and potent antioxidant activities and that the cultured mycelia of the fungus could be used for the antioxidant activity to reduce the human demands on the natural resources of the fungus, an endangered species.

Keywords: Aqueous extracts; Cordyceps sinensis; Reactive oxygen species; Tonic.