Cordyceps militaris Fruit Body Extract Decreases Testosterone Catabolism and Testosterone-Stimulated Prostate Hypertrophy

Nutrients. 2020 Dec 26;13(1):50. doi: 10.3390/nu13010050.


The androgens testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) are essential for a variety of systemic functions in mature males. Alteration of these hormones results in late-onset hypogonadism (LOH) and benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). The fruit bodies of fungi of the genus Cordyceps have been regarded as folk medicine or health food with tonic and antifatigue effects. The extract from the fruit body of Cordyceps militaris parasitizing Samia cynthia ricini (CM) was evaluated as a novel-candidate natural product for ameliorating male andropause symptoms. To explore the effects of CM on LOH and BPH, CM was applied to rat models and cultured testicular cells and prostate cells. The concentrations of androgens in the serum and culture media were determined by ELISA. Expression of steroidogenic enzymes and androgen-related genes was evaluated by qPCR, and prostatic cell proliferation was assessed with the cell-viability assay. CM maintained the serum levels of testosterone and DHT, but inhibited testosterone-induced prostate hypertrophy. CM also increased the secretion of testosterone and DHT by primary testicular cells, with no changes in the mRNA expression of steroidogenic enzymes, but decreased the growth of prostatic cell lines. Our data suggest that CM could improve both LOH and BPH in males.

Keywords: Cordyceps militaris; benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH); late-onset hypogonadism (LOH); prostate; testosterone.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cordyceps*
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / chemistry
  • Dihydrotestosterone / analysis
  • Dihydrotestosterone / metabolism
  • Eunuchism / drug therapy
  • Fruiting Bodies, Fungal / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Orchiectomy
  • Prostate / drug effects
  • Prostate / metabolism
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / drug therapy*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sugars / analysis
  • Testis / drug effects
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Testosterone / analysis
  • Testosterone / metabolism*
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*
  • Trehalose


  • Amino Acids
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Sugars
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Testosterone
  • Trehalose