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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 8474703, 7 pages
Research Article

Anticancer Efficacy of Cordyceps militaris Ethanol Extract in a Xenografted Leukemia Model

1Department of Genetic Engineering, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon 16419, Republic of Korea
2Department of Pharmacy, Sunchon National University, Suncheon 57922, Republic of Korea
3Functional Food & Phytomedicine Research Strategic Project Team, Research Planning & Management Department, Dong-A ST, Yongin 17073, Republic of Korea
4Institute for Bio-Medical Convergence, International St. Mary’s Hospital and College of Medicine, Catholic Kwandong University, Incheon, Republic of Korea
5Biochemistry, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon 24341, Republic of Korea
6Department of Veterinary Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Biosafety Research Institute, Chonbuk National University, Iksan 54596, Republic of Korea

Correspondence should be addressed to Jong-Hoon Kim, Gi-Ho Sung, and Jae Youl Cho

Received 9 February 2017; Revised 17 May 2017; Accepted 30 May 2017; Published 6 July 2017

Academic Editor: Youn C. Kim

Copyright © 2017 Jae Gwang Park 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 militaris is used widely as a traditional medicine in East Asia. Although a few studies have attempted to elucidate the anticancer activities of C. militaris, the precise mechanism of C. militaris therapeutic effects is not fully understood. We examined the anticancer activities of C. militaris ethanolic extract (Cm-EE) and its cellular and molecular mechanisms. For this purpose, a xenograft mouse model bearing murine T cell lymphoma (RMA) cell-derived cancers was established to investigate in vivo anticancer mechanisms. MTT [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide] assay, immunoblotting analysis, and flow cytometric assay were employed to check in vitro cytotoxicity, molecular targets, and proapoptotic action of Cm-EE. Interestingly, cancer sizes and mass were reduced in a C. militaris-administered group. Levels of the phosphorylated forms of p85 and AKT were clearly decreased in the group administered with Cm-EE. This result indicated that levels of phosphoglycogen synthase kinase 3β (p-GSK3β) and cleaved caspase-3 were increased with orally administered Cm-EE. In addition, Cm-EE directly inhibited the viability of cultured RMA cells and C6 glioma cells. The number of proapoptotic cells was significantly increased in a Cm-EE treated group compared with a control group. Our results suggested that C. militaris might be able to inhibit cancer growth through regulation of p85/AKT-dependent or GSK3β-related caspase-3-dependent apoptosis.