PloS one

Salinity-induced anti-angiogenesis activities and structural changes of the polysaccharides from cultured Cordyceps Militaris.

PMID 25203294


Cordyceps is a rare and exotic mushroom that grows out of the head of a mummified caterpillar. Many companies are cultivating Cordyceps to meet the increased demand for its medicinal applications. However, the structures and functions of polysaccharides, one of the pharmaceutical active ingredients in Cordyceps, are difficult to reproduce in vitro. We hypothesized that mimicking the salty environment inside caterpillar bodies might make the cultured fungus synthesize polysaccharides with similar structures and functions to that of wild Cordyceps. By adding either sodium sulfate or sodium chloride into growth media, we observed the salinity-induced anti-angiogenesis activities of the polysaccharides purified from the cultured C. Militaris. To correlate the activities with the polysaccharide structures, we performed the (13)C-NMR analysis and observed profound structural changes including different proportions of α and β glycosidic bonds and appearances of uronic acid signals in the polysaccharides purified from the culture after the salts were added. By coupling the techniques of stable (34)S-sulfate isotope labeling, aniline- and D5-aniline tagging, and stable isotope facilitated uronic acid-reduction with LC-MS analysis, our data revealed for the first time the existence of covalently linked sulfate and the presence of polygalacuronic acids in the polysaccharides purified from the salt added C. Militaris culture. Our data showed that culturing C. Militaris with added salts changed the biosynthetic scheme and resulted in novel polysaccharide structures and functions. These findings might be insightful in terms of how to make C. Militaris cultures to reach or to exceed the potency of wild Cordyceps in future.

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