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Food Chem. 2014 Feb 15;145:1066-71. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.09.001. Epub 2013 Sep 13.

Comparison of cytotoxic extracts from fruiting bodies, infected insects and cultured mycelia of Cordyceps formosana.

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Anhui Agricultural University, Hefei, 230036 Anhui, China.


A resazurin method was employed to test and compare cytotoxicity of extracts from fruiting bodies, insects and cultured mycelia of Cordyceps formosana against Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. Results showed that the cultured mycelia had much stronger cytotoxicity than that of the fruiting bodies and infected insects. This suggests that using cultured mycelia to substitute a natural Cordyceps may result in poisoning. A combined method of HPLC-PAD-HRMS and cytotoxic analysis revealed that the most toxic compound (Compound 1) was found mainly in the cultured mycelia and also a small amount in the infected insect body of the Cordyceps, but not in the fruiting body. The second toxic compound (Compound 2) was found in all structures of Cordyceps and in cultured mycelia. Different contents of the toxic compounds resulted in the different cytotoxicity of the extracts. Compound 1 and Compound 2 were prepared with preparative HPLC as yellow and orange powders, respectively. Cytotoxic tests showed that the median lethal dose (LD₅₀) against CHO cells of Compound 1 was 18.3 ± 0.2 and 103.7 ± 5.9 μg/mL for Compound 2. Compound 1 and Compound 2 were identified as rugulosin and skyrin by HRMS, UV and NMR data. The two compounds were never previously isolated from the genera Cordyceps and Hirsutella and their cytotoxicity against CHO cells was also reported for the first time.


CHO cells; Cordyceps formosana; Cytotoxicity; HPLC-PAD–HRMS; Mycelia; Structure

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