A great mystique and aura surrounds Cordyceps sinensis (syn.: Cephalosporium sinensis), an endoparasitic fungus which has claims of anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. Much research has been conducted over the years on crude extracts and its bioactivity. More research is now focused on culturing C. sinensis and on isolating and identifying pure compounds novel to C. sinensis in an attempt to alleviate strain on demand for the natural fungi. Several polysaccharides, nucleosides and sterols all have had reports of promoting health both in vitro and in vivo. Specific and novel compounds which are characteristic to C. sinensis are emerging with reports of two new epipolythiodioxopiperazines, gliocladicillins A and B capable of inhibiting growth of HeLa, HepG2 and MCF-7 tumor cells. Exclusive to natural C. sinensis, five constituents of cordysinin (A-E) has also been reported for the first time and has been linked to anti-inflammatory properties. Although it may still be premature to believe these results should translate into pharmaceutical use, there is sufficient evidence to warrant further research.
Keywords: Antiaging; Antioxidant; C. sinensis; Cordyceps; Extraction; Immune-stimulant; Nucleoside; Polysaccharide.
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