Anti-inflammatory effects of cordycepin: A review

Phytother Res. 2020 Oct 8. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6890. Online ahead of print.


Cordycepin is the major bioactive component extracted from Cordyceps militaris. In recent years, cordycepin has received increasing attention owing to its multiple pharmacological activities. This study reviews recent researches on the anti-inflammatory effects and the related activities of cordycepin. The results from our review indicate that cordycepin exerts protective effects against inflammatory injury for many diseases including acute lung injury (ALI), asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's disease (PD), hepatitis, atherosclerosis, and atopic dermatitis. Cordycepin regulates the NF-κB, RIP2/Caspase-1, Akt/GSK-3β/p70S6K, TGF-β/Smads, and Nrf2/HO-1 signaling pathways among others. Several studies focusing on cordycepin derivatives were reviewed and found to down metabolic velocity of cordycepin and increase its bioavailability. Moreover, cordycepin enhanced immunity, inhibited the proliferation of viral RNA, and suppressed cytokine storms, thereby suggesting its potential to treat COVID-19 and other viral infections. From the collected and reviewed information, this article provides the theoretical basis for the clinical applications of cordycepin and discusses the path for future studies focusing on expanding the medicinal use of cordycepin. Taken together, cordycepin and its analogs show great potential as the next new class of anti-inflammatory agents.

Keywords: COVID‐19; anti‐inflammatory; cordycepin; inflammatory diseases; pharmacokinetics; toxicology.

Publication types

  • Review