Study Title:

Comparison of effects on colitis-associated tumorigenesis and gut microbiota in mice between Ophiocordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris.

Study Abstract

Background: Gut microbiota plays an indispensable role in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colitis-associated cancer (CAC). As traditional medicinal fungi, previous studies have shown that Ophiocordyceps sinensis could better maintain intestinal health via promoting the growth of probiotics in vitro compared with Cordyceps militaris. However, the detailed pharmacological activities and clinical efficacy of O. sinensis and C. militaris are still elusive.

Purpose: We aimed to evaluate the different actions of O. sinensis and C. militaris on colitis-associated tumorigenesis in Azoxymethane (AOM)/Dextran Sulfate Sodium (DSS)-treated mice and explore the potential gut microbiota-dependent mechanisms.

Methods: C57BL/6 mice (Male, 4 weeks old) were used to construct the AOM/DSS-induced CAC mice model. The mice were administered with 0.6 mg/g/d O. sinensis or C. militaris for 12 weeks. It's worth noting that fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) and antibiotic treatment were used to investigated the complex interactions between the medicinal fungi, gut microbiota and colonic tumorigenesis.

Results: O. sinensis treatment significantly increased the body weight and survival rate, reduced the number of colon tumors, improved the damage of colon epithelial tissue, restored the crypt structure and alleviate the colonic inflammation in AOM/DSS-treated mice. RT-qPCR results indicated that O. sinensis partly regulated the Wnt/β-catenin signaling via alleviating the overexpression of β-catenin, TCF4 and c-Myc genes in adjacent noncancerous tissues. Compared with C. militaris, O. sinensis showed better anti-tumor activity. Gut microbiota analysis revealed that O. sinensis reversed the decline of gut microbiota diversity and the structural disorder induced by AOM/DSS. Spearman's correlation analysis showed that O. sinensis promoted the growth of Parabacteroides goldsteinii and Bifidobacterium pseudolongum PV8-2, which were positively correlated with the anti-tumor activity and the production of SCFAs. FMT combined with antibiotic treatment showed that horizontal fecal transfer derived from O. sinensis-treated mice improved the intestinal inflammation and alleviated the colitis-associated tumorigenesis, which was consistent with the direct ingestion of O. sinensis.

Conclusion: O. sinensis could better attenuate colitis-associated tumorigenesis compared with C. militaris. These effects might be at least partially due to the increased abundance of probiotics, especially P. goldsteinii and B. pseudolongum PV8-2.

Study Information

Phytomedicine. 2021 Sep;90:153653. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2021.153653. Epub 2021 Jul 10. PMID: 34330600.

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