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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013, Article ID 569206, 13 pages
Research Article

Cordyceps sinensis Increases Hypoxia Tolerance by Inducing Heme Oxygenase-1 and Metallothionein via Nrf2 Activation in Human Lung Epithelial Cells

Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Science, Lucknow Road, Timarpur, Delhi 110 054, India

Received 18 April 2013; Revised 11 July 2013; Accepted 11 July 2013

Academic Editor: Dobromir Dobrev

Copyright © 2013 Mrinalini Singh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cordyceps sinensis, an edible mushroom growing in Himalayan regions, is widely recognized in traditional system of medicine. In the present study, we report the efficacy of Cordyceps sinensis in facilitating tolerance to hypoxia using A549 cell line as a model system. Treatment with aqueous extract of Cordyceps sinensis appreciably attenuated hypoxia induced ROS generation, oxidation of lipids and proteins and maintained antioxidant status similar to that of controls via induction of antioxidant gene HO1 (heme oxygenase-1), MT (metallothionein) and Nrf2 (nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-like 2). In contrast, lower level of NFκB (nuclear factor kappaB) and tumor necrosis factor-α observed which might be due to higher levels of HO1, MT and transforming growth factor-β. Further, increase in HIF1 (hypoxia inducible factor-1) and its regulated genes; erythropoietin, vascular endothelial growth factor, and glucose transporter-1 was observed. Interestingly, Cordyceps sinensis treatment under normoxia did not regulate the expression HIF1, NFκB and their regulated genes evidencing that Cordyceps sinensis per se did not have an effect on these transcription factors. Overall, Cordyceps sinensis treatment inhibited hypoxia induced oxidative stress by maintaining higher cellular Nrf2, HIF1 and lowering NFκB levels. These findings provide a basis for possible use of Cordyceps sinensis in tolerating hypoxia.